Los Angeles Clippers: Poised to Start a Magical season


After a tumultuous off-season and a less than inspiring preseason, it’s time. It’s time for the games to count and for the Clippers to finally take the next step.

Sports fans are nothing if not impatient.

When the Clippers drafted Blake Griffin there was quiet optimism. When he hurt his knee and missed his rookie season there was loud cries of “Same ‘Ole Clippers”. When Chris Paul was traded to the team there was immediate expectation. When Doc Rivers took over expectations grew. When Donald Sterling was recorded saying some pretty foul things the cries of “Same ‘Ole Clippers” came back stronger than ever.

To say that the Clippers have been on a roller coaster over the last few years would be an understatement.

To succeed at anything in the midst of those extreme highs and lows would be hard for a single person. It turned out to be impossible for a team. Sure, the Clippers did well, but as Vinnie Del Negro recently pointed out, they did well while he was the coach too.  Things were not going to script. Expectations were not being met.

As the franchise prepares to begin the 2015-16 NBA season however they are free of turmoil. DeAndre Jordan has decided where he wants to play and there is no turning back. Donald Sterling is long gone. In his place is a passionate owner who happens to be the richest owner in the Association. Blake Griffin is healthy and at the prime of his career. The franchises drama is behind them, ahead is the opportunity to enjoy the very best season in it’s history.

Things have never looked better for the Clippers as they do going into the season. Yes, the Western Conference is still stacked with incredible teams, but each one is showing cracks in their armor.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant back, but also have a new coach; they’ll be good, but it will take time for the new coach to acclimate and earn the trust of his team.

The Spurs are old. Yes, I know they have been old for some time, but this season they are old, and while I am certain LaMarcus Aldridge will have an impact on that team (as will David West), it’s unlikely there is enough magic left in Coach Popvich’s game-book to eek out another significant run in the playoffs.

The Golden State Warriors are an interesting case study. The won it all last season and deservedly so. They beat every team that got in their way, it is not the Warriors fault that the Clippers did not get in their way. This season, however, the Warriors will likely not be as fortunate as they were last season. Injuries, which were mostly avoided last season, are bound to pop up, and most dangerous for the Dubs is a feeling of complacency that comes after you win it all. It’s easier sneak up on something you are hunting than it is to be the hunted. This season the Warriors will have the X on their back. That will be an additional burden to bear.

The rest of the West, including the Rockets, Grizzlies and even the Pelicans, will be good but should not be a serious contenders to the Clippers. That is not to say the Clippers come into this season unscathed and without any questions.  We have yet to see if Lance Stevenson will be a help or  hindrance; the bench still seems to be a work in progress. But those are issues that you trust your head coach to work through as the season evolves. In Doc Rivers the Clippers have one of the very best in the business.

In short, this it their time. The Clippers stand poised to start what could be, what needs to be, a very special season for them.


Oct 13, 2015, Shanghai, China; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) waves to fans during fan appreciation night with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Charlotte Hornets at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Danny La-USA Today Sports

For decades the Boston Red Sox were over-shadowed by the mighty New York Yankees. The Los Angeles Dodgers laughed at the cute antics of the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels. In both cases fans of the dominant team pointed to championships. In sports, that is the great conversation ender. When Kobe is heckled on the bench he simply holds up five fingers to signify the number of championships he has won.

BAM, conversation over.

The Red Sox and Angles struggled under the weight of the shadow from the Yankees and Dodgers respectively. That isuntil they won championships of their own. The Sox finally snagged the big prize in 2004 after an 86 year wait. The Angels won it all in 2002 for the first time in their existance. In addition to the spoils that come with winning it all, both franchises effectively moved out from under the shadow of the perceived better team. Today, most see the Red Sox and Angels as on par with the Yankees and Dodgers. Each team has a legitimate shot to win it all year in and year out.

This is about becoming consistently good. This is about obliterating the memories of the past and replacing them with expectations for the future

Now its the Clippers turn.

The Dodgers shadow over the Angles wasn’t crippling, but it was there. The Yankee shadow over the Sox seemed palpable. Both are dwarfed by the dreaded Lakers shadow over the Clippers. A lot of that has to do with the teams sharing the same facility. Add to that the fact that the Lakers were historically great for decades while the Clippers were historically bad. The Clippers were laughable really. The Lakers shadow was not only dark and foreboding, it had gremlins and had things that went bump in the night. It held the Clippers down as much as the bad draft picks and odd front office decisions. At least it did in the minds of NBA fans.

While the Clippers have been the better team for years now they are not seen to be on par with the Lakers. While the Lakers flounder, struggling to reach mediocrity, the Clippers are legitimate contenders for the Championship. None of it matters however because, well, they are the Clippers. The franchise has been chipping away at that odd mindset for years, this is the year the final hammer blow needs to connect and the Clippers achieve what for years seemed not only impossible, but laughable. To be seen as and considered an equal to the Lakers.


The very best team assembled in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise is set to make history. The Western Conference is not weak, but it is vulnerable. All the drama that burdened the franchise is behind them. Their biggest weakness last season, the bench, was addressed in spades. Even their longtime nemesis is in disarray. The table is set. This isn’t just about winning a championship, this is about finally stepping out of the shadow of the Lakers and being seen a perennial powerhouse in the NBA. This is about becoming consistently good. This is about obliterating the memories of the past and replacing them with expectations for the future. There is a lot riding on this season for the Los Angeles Clippers and it begins next week.

Now is the time. This is the season.

Next: NBA Preseason: Clippers Defeat Blazers, Ending Preseason on High Note