By Dennis J. Freeman
I always believe that a first impression is a lasting impression. The first time I saw Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups take the floor as teammates at a recent Los Angeles Clippers’ scrimmage, I got a sense that something special could be brewing.
When I saw the trio and the rest of the Los Angeles Clippers go up against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first preseason game of the season, I saw limitless potential and explosion from this team. The Clippers are the real deal. I don’t care about the team’s inept play for decades. This season isn’t about past failures as it is more about what the Clippers are trying to do for the future. And that future looks pretty bright, especially for this season.
All of the ridicule directed at this franchise has now subsided, at least for now. No longer can anyone compare the Clippers as the junior varsity team to the mighty Lakers franchise. Sure, it was the first preseason game of the NBA season, but those same Clippers went out and kicked those same Lakers in the teeth in a thorough beat down from head to toe.
Yes, it is way too early to make a prediction on what the Clippers will do this season, but the chances of this team going deep into the postseason is not far-fetched. Not only are the Clippers younger, more athletic and seem to have more energy than their hallway rivals, they also have more star power. Through his spectacular breakout season last year, Griffin had already brought national buzz to Clipperland.
The addition of the electrifying Paul and the well-vetted Billups give the team more credence as a force to be reckoned with. Yes, it is early. But the excitement on the floor that the Clippers could bring this season could be a run-in terms of hype and fan popularity-similar to that of the Magic Johnson’s Lakers during their well-documented “Showtime” era. Johnson and the Lakers gave the Lakers and the rest of the NBA a joy and showmanship for the game that had not been seen since.
There have been lots of imitators and pretenders to the “Showtime” run. But Paul, Griffin, Billups and DeAndre Jordan can very easily bring that kind of excitement and exhilaration back to Los Angeles. The Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal run gave the Lakers three titles in dominant seasons. Even the Bryant-led Lakers, which won two world championships in three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, created some magic of their own.
But the kind of juice that Paul and Griffin, the NBA’s Slam Dunk champion and Rookie of the Year, are expected to bring this season could be off the charts. That was evident in the Clippers first shot against their big brother Lakers. Paul, Griffin and the rest of the Clippers aren’t backing down. In fact, expect the Clippers to kick butt and take names on their way to what promises to be an exciting season. And they’ll look good doing it.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about social justice, civil rights, education, politics, and crime. He also covers the NFL, NBA, MLB as well as other sports. Based in Southern California, Dennis earned a journalism degree with a minor in criminal justice from Howard University. The real HU!!