LOS ANGELES, CA (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Clippers dropped a one-two step on the rest of the NBA with their signing of two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and bringing Paul George aboard ship via a head-turning trade with the Oklahoma Thunder.
A lot of experts got completely knocked out of their chairs when news circulated of the duo pairing up to join the Clippers. The introductory press conference the Clippers had for the two Southern California home grown stars In July put the rest of the league on official notice of what is to come for the franchise.
That includes their Staples Center neighbors down the hallway, whom they will see when they open the regular season (Oct. 22) and on Christmas Day.
There are big expectations that Leonard and George are going to be asked to live up to. Thanks to a bevy of moves the last six years, the Clippers now have championship aspirations as opposed to being mired in organizational apathy. Instead of going through the motions and operating as the city’s junior varsity squad to their Staples Center rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers are now the team deemed as the team to beat in L.A.
How’s that for a turnaround? The chain of events for the Clippers to where they are started with the selection of power forward Blake Griffin in the 2010 NBA Draft. The team then upped its push to be part of the NBA elite with current coach Doc Rivers coming over from the Boston Celtics.
The lock Hall of Fame coach has been coaching the Clippers the past six seasons. Outside the championship banner he won with the Celtics when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen all rode shotgun to the NBA title, the addition of Leonard and George to the Clippers, probably gives Rivers his best defensive unit that’s he’s coached.
A starting team that consists of Leonard, George, forward Montrezl Harrell and point guard Patrick Beverly, will simply be nightmarish for opposing teams to go up against. Thanks to the work of the Clippers’ brass, the organization has taken out the question marks for the team’s on-court success and has replaced them with exclamation points with Leonard and George buying into the brand.
This building process has not been an overnight thing for the Clippers. It’s a slow-burn process for the Clippers. The Clippers have never sniffed an NBA Finals. That looks like that is about to change with Leonard and George featured as key components in making that a reality.
Naysayers might say they’ve heard that rallying cry before when Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan formed their own version of the “Big Three” and guided the Clippers to consecutive playoff appearances.
Unfortunately, Griffin, Paul, and Jordan and their high-powered squad that included JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford, simply couldn’t get it done. That group could never make it past the second round, thus beginning the exodus of those players from the ballclub.
For the Clippers, it’s a new day in every way possible, including its outreach into the community. The Clippers have committed to repaint and redo 350 outdoor basketball courts throughout Los Angeles County as one of the ways to endear themselves to the Los Angeles community. One of those outdoor basketball courts referenced is Green Meadows Recreation Center in South Los Angeles, where the Clippers held Leonard and George’s press conference.
This type of cultural environment that the Clippers have now incorporated into its brand, has been years in the making, sprayed with doses of All-Star players bringing the spotlight to the organization and management making A-1 moves to improve the franchise-on and off the court.
The Clippers’ snowball effect has pushed the Lakers, still operating in past glory, more and more into the background in recent seasons until they were able to land LeBron James. And even with the pickup of forward Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers have found themselves to be outclassed again by the Clippers with Leonard and George joining forces with LA’s “other team.”
By linking up with one another, Leonard and George are now tasked with picking up and carrying the torch left behind by the “Lob City” crew of Griffin, Jordan and Paul. When ownership changed hands and Steve Ballmer took over, the Clippers organization flipped into another direction-head to bottom.
And if you add in The Logo, Jerry West, to help turn things around as a consultant to the team, the former downtrodden Clippers, have transformed themselves into a world-class sports franchise, a pristine model in business acumen and game-changing strategy.
Getting Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to that franchise’s only NBA title, and George, who finished third in last season’s regular season MVP voting, is just the tip of the iceberg for the Clippers when it comes to making their presence felt throughout the Southland. It’s a brand new day. Get used it, Los Angeles.
Dennis is editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about civil rights, education, government, crime, and social justice. Dennis covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. He is a graduate of Howard University. HU!!