Today in 2019 marked a big day for the LA Clippers. After signing in free agency, superstar Kawhi Leonard made his regular season debut for the Clips.
Believe it or not, Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers played their first game of the season we just ended a calendar year ago today.
On October 22, 2019, the Clippers and the Lakers faced off for the first of four regular season games; the league did not make us wait long to see the first Battle of LA.
Going into the game, Clippers fans had tried (usually in vain) to keep expectations low. After all, Paul George wasn’t playing, while the Lakers had both of their stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The game started out in that direction; the Lakers jumped out early, and it seemed like it might not be the Clippers’ night. But then Kawhi Leonard reminded us all why we were so excited when he signed.
He scored 16 points in the second quarter and, along with a monster night from the bench (60 bench points for the Clippers vs. 19 for the Lakers), he delivered a victory in his very first regular season game as a Clipper.
His final statline was 30 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 10-19 from the field, 1-5 from three and 9-10 from the line, and the Clippers won the game 112-102.
If you asked most Clippers fans (myself included) exactly how well Kawhi performed that night, I don’t think we could tell you without looking it up. But what stands out is the excitement that came with having Kawhi Leonard, maybe the best player in the league – definitely top 5, playing for the LA Clippers.
We had our superstar, and he had just helped deliver a win over the Lakers, of all teams, without his running mate in PG. The sky felt like the limit after game 1.
Of course, the season didn’t always live up to the heights that fans of the LA Clippers felt after that game, and it didn’t end in the championship we hoped for. But the moment that Kawhi Leonard took the floor wearing a Clippers jersey is going to be one that I, and Clippers fans everywhere, remember for a long while.