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Charles Barkley says Clippers might be the best team in Los Angeles

Former NBA All-Star Shaquille O'Neal joined the TNT studio team of Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith for a conference call Thursday. Barkley and O'Neal said the Los Angeles Clippers are moving up fast on the Lakers.
by Mel Bracht Modified: December 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm •  Published: December 15, 2011

Are the Los Angeles Clippers the best NBA team in Los Angeles this season?

TNT's NBA analyst Charles Barkley said that might be the case after this week's blockbuster deal that sent New Orleans Hornets star guard Chris Paul to the Clippers.

“I can't believe I'm saying this,” Barkley said in a conference call Thursday. “Who is the best team in L.A., in that building? The Clippers have all that young talent and now they've got a leader. The Clippers have not had that. He (Paul) is going to force them to mature quicker. I think it's a fair and legitimate question and it might be the Clippers.”

Fellow analyst Kenny Smith wouldn't go that far but said he is ready to buy tickets to watch Paul dish it off to Blake Griffin and others.

“They're exciting. I'm going to see dunks and crossovers and moves,” he said. “But when I walk in the building when the purple and gold (the Lakers) play, you're going to see winning and that's been their tradition.”

New addition Shaquille O'Neal, a 15-time NBA All-Star, agreed the Clippers would be exciting. “The Clippers are not the little brother anymore,” he said. “They're all grown up now.”

It's clear from the conference call that O'Neal will make the NBA's best studio team even better when the trio share their strong opinions with glib host Ernie Johnson. They will make their debut at 10 a.m. Christmas Day before TNT's Boston Celtics at New York Knicks telecast.

The trio had mixed opinions about whether the NBA is damaging the season by starting on Christmas Day and still playing a 66-game schedule.

“I'm really concerned about injuries,” Barkley said. “I look at the football thing. I think we've seen a great amount of injuries in the NFL than has been in the past because there was a short training camp.”

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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