Things tend to manifest themselves when they are going good. The Los Angeles Clippers can bear witness to that. Despite the fact the Clippers has lost two games in a row, including being humbled by Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma Thunder at Staples Center, the team that once was the league’s laughing stock for decades, has been given renewed life.
The pulse of the Clippers these days is vibrant, thriving and one that is looking down on most of the NBA instead of casting their gaze upwards. In short, the Clippers are a revitalized franchise.
There are now sellout crowds instead of a half-empty arena. The Clippers feature more marquee names on the floor instead of having a roster full of journeymen hoopsters. “Lob City” is now the hottest thing to come and watch. The feeding frenzy of electricity inspired by the spectacular play of the Clippers has replaced the yawns of boredom and has sparked discussions of even a run to the NBA Finals this season.
Pretty lofty ambitions and turnaround for a team mired in a 50-game, season-losing mark just two years ago. But two years ago the Clippers didn’t have Chris Paul on the roster. Two years ago, the Clippers were a makeshift bunch with high-flying Blake Griffin grounded to almost a standstill. What a difference some and wheeling and dealing can make. And what a difference the right personnel can have on a franchise.
While some basketball pundits smirked and mocked what the team was doing, the Clippers went about assembling the kind of roster that could go toe-to-toe with every other team in the NBA. It is no coincidence the Clippers are as good as they are this season.
The budding transformation started with the acquisition of veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, the trade for Paul. The team’s determination to make this Los Angeles ballclub a title contender gained more momentum this past offseason with the overlooked pickups of Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Rony Turiaf and Jamal Crawford, a group of former league starters within their own right.
However, the core of the team’s heartbeat lies within the skills and intellect of Paul and Griffin. Paul and Griffin were both named as starters to this year’s NBA All-Game. This is Paul’s sixth consecutive NBA All-Star selection, four as a starter. Griffin earned his third NBA All-Star appearance, with this being his second as a starter. Both players, making their second straight starting appearance together as teammates, could be joined by Crawford.
The accent of the Clippers has no doubt been fueled by the play of Paul and Griffin this season. Their NBA All-Star selections, nonetheless is pretty special for the two players.
“It’s always an honor and a privilege, especially to be voted in by the fans because that means that you’re doing something right and that they want to see you,” Paul said in a released statement by the team. “It is never something I get used to, it is something very special each time you get voted in and I have so many people that share in this special honor.”
Like Paul, Griffin feels making the NBA All-Star team is a great honor.
“It means a lot, it’s an honor,” Griffin said. “You know I really appreciate all the fans out there that voted for me. I also appreciate my teammates, coaching staff and everybody that has helped me become a better player and helping me reach my goals.”
While folks focused their attention on the supercharged Los Angeles Lakers when Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joined up with Kobe Bryant, Clipper Nation was quietly getting a team that has since proven to be even more formidable than the Purple and Gold’s triple-threat of future Hall of Famers. The payoff has been stupendous as the Clippers have virtually run away from the rest of the NBA’s Western Conference Pacific Division teams (outside Golden State) and is currently tied with the league’s second-best record.
The Clippers got another reward recently: a 10-year extension on their lease to continue to play their brand of basketball at the famed Staples Center. That will allow the Clippers to operate as tenants through June 2024, making the team’s residency an official 25 years.
“We are very excited about our present and our future at STAPLES Center. It is indeed an honor to benefit from the sustained stability that accompanies being part of the greatest venue in the NBA, and we are glad to provide this state of the art backdrop to our deserving and loyal fan base,” said Clippers’ President Andy Roeser.
The future of the Clippers appears to be getting brighter by the day.