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Why LA Is Still a Lakers Town

Since Google began tracking search terms in 2004, people in the Los Angeles area have searched for the Lakers eight times more often than they’ve searched for the Clippers.

The gap has narrowed since the Clippers traded for Chris Paul in December 2011, but not by that much. The Lakers have received 3.6 times more search traffic from Angelenos since October, when the current NBA season started. This in a year in when the Lakers went 27-55 and the Clippers 57-25.

Having an owner like Donald Sterling, with his history of racist remarks and discriminatory business practices, won’t help the Clippers’ popularity (although it may spark more Google searches in the short term). And it’s not as if the team has been any good on the court under his ownership. Since the 1984-85 NBA season, when Sterling moved the Clippers to Los Angeles from San Diego, they are 582 games under .500, counting both the regular season and the playoffs. The Lakers are 772 games over .500 in the same period.

Lately, the Clippers have been better, but it will take them some time to catch up. Even if they go 57-25 every season (and break even in the playoffs), they would need until some point in the 2031-32 season to pull themselves over the .500 line.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.