Former Clipper reveals how Doc Rivers ruined "Lob City," chance at title

One former player gave his explanation for why one of the most exciting eras of Clippers basketball ultimately failed.
Doc Rivers, LA Clippers
Doc Rivers, LA Clippers / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Back when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined the LA Clippers in 2019 to officially begin the "213" era, many felt it would result in the most prosperous era in team history. After all, this was the reigning Finals MVP and some felt, the best player in the world, teaming up with a player coming off a top-three in MVP voting season where he also earned first-team All-NBA and first-team All-Defensive honors.

By all means, the Clippers should have been set up for more success than ever. But now, with five years of that experiment in the past, it is hard to say this team put themselves in that elite category. In fact, many would agree they did not surpass the "Lob City" era Clippers, which are still generally regarded as the best era in team history.

"Lob City" began when the Clippers acquired Chris Paul during the 2011-12 season and ended when he was dealt to the Houston Rockets following the 2016-17 season. Over that stretch, the Clippers enjoyed five straight 50-win seasons in a row, finishing top-five in the Western Conference each year and winning the Pacific Division twice. They still never made a conference finals, but their success was stamped, without a doubt.

On the flip side, the "213" era has only achieved 50 wins once as of this writing, along with just one Pacific Division crown. So it is easy to see why the previous era is still seen as the best by a large segment of the fanbase. Recently, former Clippers Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes discussed on a podcast why they believed their era with the Clips ultimately failed, with Barnes suggesting it was Doc Rivers' decision to pay his son, Austin, a big contract that ultimately doomed the team.

Matt Barnes says Doc Rivers ultimately broke "Lob City" up

While the two were discussing the "Lob City" era Clippers, Barnes spoke about the team's lack of a mental edge and how that hindered them in their pursuit of a championship. This is certainly a valid point, considering all the deep and talented teams they were going up against in the Western Conference at that time.

But in Barnes' eyes, Doc giving Austin Rivers a three-year, $35 million dollar contract in the summer of 2016 was ultimately the deciding factor in the Clippers beginning to falling apart. They clearly saw this move as nepotism, with Austin getting paid a sizeable contract by his father after a season where he put up just 8.9 points per game.

For fans of the Clippers, this has to be crushing to hear from a player on that team. Many outsiders could have probably already guessed that this move was an unpopular one within the locker room, but to have it confirmed by a member of the squad points us to how that team began to break down.

Sure, the core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan may have never been good enough to win a championship. But the fact that personal differences and ultimately bad chemistry was the undoing of the "Lob City" era in the end is a tough pill to swallow.