LOS ANGELES, CA (News4usonline) – The enthusiasm for the Los Angeles Clippers is high this season. Really high.
In one strategic and authoritative summer, the Clippers picked up two perennial All-Star players, hauled in an NBA champion, and unveiled artwork renderings that captures the highly anticipated new state-of-the-art Clippers Arena, scheduled to be built in Inglewood, already the future home for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
Yes, it’s been a rather impressive few months for the Clippers. Now is the time to go to work. The Clippers, a team that surprised many people when they punched their ticket to the NBA playoffs last season, will head into this season with a bullseye on their backs.
The expectations are so ramped up that the Clippers are expected to contend for the NBA championship this season, thanks to the addition of Leonard and George to the team.
That excitement spilled over unto the Clippers’ media day despite the fact that ESPN reported that George would miss time rehabbing from reported multiple surgeries he had on both of his shoulders.
“As far as my health, I’m pretty good,” George said at the Honey Training Center, the Clippers’ practice facility. “I’ll be in camp starting this week…nothing contact, but all the 510 stuff, all the scripted stuff, I’ll be a part of. In terms of being…I’m used to being in this rehab stage and knowing what it takes to get my body prepared and get my body up to speed. It’s a long process, but again, I think me going through it and having a drastic injury in my leg..I know what to expect, what pressure to put on myself and what pressure not to put on myself as well. That comes with a lot of stress going through rehab. I’m just in a good place. I know what I need to do; I know what I’m capable of, and ultimately, I’ll know whn my body is ready.”
In a press conference format, both George, Leonard and rest of the Clippers took turns speaking to the media about the season.
Leonard paired up with guard Lou Williams while George got his turn to talk to reporters with forward Montrezl Harrell. George became a member of the Clippers via a trade that sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallenari, and a host of draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder. George, like Leonard, a Southern California guy, is ready to get it on with his new teammates.
But the Palmdale native cautioned that in order for the team to sidestep any pitfalls that may come their way this season, it is best that they block out any potential distractions.
“I think the good thing about my career and being where I’m at now is [that] I’ve been a part of teams that we’ve built something in the locker room, we’ve built that brotherhood and we didn’t allow outside noise, we didn’t allow media, we didn’t allow anything to break us apart,” George said. “I sense that with this group here, [with] how well and tight-knit of a group we are already. The ball ain’t even been rolled out yet.”
“So, I think that’s most important; that we keep everything in-house, whether we got our ups, our downs. Everything is even keel, everything is where everybody is on the same page, and we go out as one,” George added. “If we maintain that, we can get through anything.”
George is probably speaking to the choir in that regard. A six-time NBA All-Star, George suffered a nasty and near catastrophic injury to his right leg while competing to make the U.S. National team vying to compete in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He’s come back to become just as dominant a player now as he was before he suffered that injury. Perhaps more so.
As he presses for an NBA title, chasing that dream in his hometown is somewhat surreal to George.
“The fact that I’m unpacking instead of packing at this time is a surreal moment,” George said. “Everyday I’m here, every day I’m waking up in the morning, every day I’m taking that drive on the I-405 [Freeway], is a surreal moment. Ultimately, what I wanted to get to in my career is being back home and being close to my peoples. It’s never going to get old, from me coming in here today having media day here, putting on this jersey, to the first game to hearing my name in the starting lineup. Everything is going to be a reminder of where I’m at right now.”