The Gap Band’s You Dropped A Bomb on Me was a major hit single in its heyday. The mid-1990s recording may have been usurped by the hip hop era, but the underlying message of the song still resonates. Surprise. Caught off guard. Shock. Eye-opener. Unexpected. Astonishment. That’s kind of what Charlie Wilson mused about on the You Dropped a Bomb on Me single.
It’s also probably the sentiment of the Los Angeles Clippers fans after they learned that the heart and soul of their team-Mr. Blake Griffin-had been permanently released from the team, heading to Detroit in an unimaginable trade. If the Clippers wanted that “wow” moment, the announcement they made that Griffin had been shipped to the Pistons for a couple of decent players, certainly gave it to them.
This move did more than catch people by surprise. This is a stunner. Since he arrived, Griffin had been revered as the cornerstone of the Clippers franchise-with or without Chris Paul. The Clippers drafted Griffin as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Since then, Griffin has won Rookie of the Year honors, became a serious contender for league most valuable player a couple of seasons, and funneled the Clippers into perennial playoff contenders.
It’s hard to imagine another player stepping up and being “that guy” and replacing Griffin as the face of the Clippers franchise. Eventually, that will happen. Not now, though. Not after the Clippers signed Griffin to a 5-year, $171 million contract in the offseason, a 2017 summer that saw the core of the Clippers talented roster depart. J.J. Redick took his talents to the Philadelphia 76ers.
CP3 hooked up with James Harden to make the Houston Rockets a team to be reckoned with in the foreseeable future. Jamal Crawford went missing in action and found another team he can call home. Griffin had blossomed into an NBA superstar, and the Clippers had him-hook, line and sinker. Griffin has that unfiltered charm that people naturally gravitate to. His good-looks, funny-one liners and Oklahoma drawl made Griffin an instant hit with Los Angeles fans.
On top of that, the man can play ball! At times on the court, Griffin is the most dominant player around. He can score, rebound and bring the thunder with him when he makes a power move to the basket. But eventually, Griffin became a trade commodity once the Lob City infrastructure could not move past the second round of the postseason, year after year.
The expectations that came down on the shoulders of Griffin, Paul, Redick and center DeAndre Jordan didn’t net the results of contending for a championship, therefore lending credence to Clippers management to start investing into the future. Judging by the roster that was assembled in the offseason trade of Paul to the Rockets, the Clippers sent a signal that they were going to do a reset.
This trade is going to do more than alter the Clippers’ future; it is going to help determine it. With the Golden State Warriors ruling the Western Conference and the rest of the NBA, going the youth route makes good business sense. The Clippers really don’t have a choice if you look at teams such as the much improved Minnesota Timberwolves.
In reality, Griffin, Paul, Redick and Jordan had their five-year window close on them without even an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. They could not get it done as a unit. Once that window closed, the alternative was keep going with the old or change things. In the end, the Clippers decided to go big and go bold. Sometimes, change is good, even when it hurts. There’s no doubt that trading away Griffin is going to sting for a while.
But the sun is still going to shine in Southern California. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward. The Clippers are not going backwards; they’re re-adjusting their priorities so that they can get that exciting young prospect with an upswing of potential. There is going to be a lot of chatter in the coming days and months about the Griffin trade and whether or not the Clippers have sunken back into mediocrity instead of being NBA relevancy.
Part of improving one’s lot in life is about making adjustments and strategizing. It’s clear with the Paul and Griffin trades that the Clippers are carefully planning to make sure that their future roster fly higher than their Lob City predecessors.