¨the only thing I’m going to promise is that you’re going to get our best every night. And when you hear `The Clippers,’ it’s not going to be a joke anymore. I can guarantee you that.” Blake Griffin
For the first time since the Clippers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles when Donald Sterling purchased the team, the Los Angeles Clippers are no longer the butt of jokes, nor will no longer be referred to as that other LA team.
For the Longest time, LA belonged solely to the Lakers, a team steeped in winning tradition, where superstars always want to play, and a team where winning was synonymous with. The Clippers? a mere afterthought, if even that. The snafus of the clipper front office have long been documented, trades, draft choices, signings and contract extensions and offers to players have led many observers to privately wonder what the hell is the ownership team thinking. Add to that the not so clean reputation of owner Donald Sterling and you have a picture of a franchise that had the putrid smell of decay that made all star caliber players stay away. They tried offering a contract to Kobe Bryant in free agency which was outrightly rejected. all stars they obtained through trades eventually bolted as soon as they could. praying for trades that would get them out of dodge. The Clippers it seemed was a team where careers are mired in a bog of stagnancy. that is until they rolled the dice on a 17 percent chance at the top pick of the 2009 draft where they selected the man who would change the way people would think about the Clippers. Blake Griffin.
And although Griffin would miss his entire rookie year following a freak injury during the last preseason game of the season against, quite coincidentally; Chris Paul’s hornets, He took the NBA by storm last season winning rookie of the year, playing in his first all star game and winning the slam dunk contest. Suddenly the clippers, were appearing regularly on televised games as Griffin dueled with minnesota’s Kevin Love for the most consecutive number of double doubles, aside from his gravity defying throw downs.
But more than those ferocious dunks, Blake Griffin brought something else to the Clippers. he was soft spoken, he was not a trash talker. other players would beat down on him and get physical and he would not retaliate, he just let his game do the talking. He brought a tremendous locker room presence and work ethic that got every Clipper player pumped up, everyone started working harder, if the kid can do it, so should we was how center DeAndre Jordan put it.
Now the Clippers are poised to storm through the western conference, and everyone is now taking notice. After numerous hitches, they finally traded for superstar point guard Chris Paul, and claimed disgruntled guard Chauncey Billups off of waivers plus signed small forward Caron Butler, and resigned DeAndre Jordan for four more years. Now people are asking, are they actually better than the Lakers now? a thought unheard of as early as a year ago.
Neil Olshey deserves to win GM of the year even before this season starts by surrounding Griffin with Talent and character guys to show they mean business. and although some people are wondering if the Clippers gave up too much in the trade that landed CP3, and what the hell are they going to do with 5 guards on their roster, clipper nation aint really that bothered. This is CP3, the premier point guard cut in the mold of Jason Kidd, with a better jumpshot. a pure point guard who has the ability to make teammates better. a starting 5 of Paul, Billups, Butler, Jordan and Griffin is not something to take lightly. it is highly probable that they will make additional trades perhaps involving Randy Foye and Mo Williams to get a back up big man, but right now people are salivating at the prospect of watchng the clipper highlight reel this early.
Chris Paul said during yesterday’s introduction that he was excited at the prospect of playing along side Griffin, saying all the right things.
¨I think Blake has done an unbelievable job changing that (perception),” Paul said. “You can’t take anything away from him about how he has changed the culture here in L.A. I’m coming here to join and be a part of it, and hopefully we can grow together as basketball players and continue to change everything. That’s what we play for.”
and for those looking forward to the now famous ^¨Lob City¨ comment made by a giddy Griffin and DeAndre Jordan CP3 has this to say.
“That’s something that’s not going to happen overnight either,” Paul said. “I’ve got to find the right height. It’s like Blake plays on a goal that’s lower than 10 foot or something. I’m excited for the opportunity to not only help him grow, but for him to help me to get to the next level.”
NBA analysts are now projecting the Clippers to be a playoff team and rightfully so, but can they contend? perhaps after another trade that would get them a defensive minded big man. but hey, who would have projected the Mavs to win the title last year? i say anything is possible. i have never been a fan of the Clippers, i used to love the bulls because of Pippen,then detroit because of Sheed and Tayshaun Prince. but now? Blake Griffin and the Clippers are about to take on the world, and everyone is waiting for the aerial fireworks. Lob City here we come!