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This Is the Dawning of the Age of the Clippers?
One of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced was on May 1, 2006. The seventh-seed Lakers led the second-seed Phoenix Suns three games to one, just one game away from the second round of the playoffs. I was at the STAPLES Center watching Game 5 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs where the Clippers led by Corey Maggete’s and Cuttino Mobley’s 23 points each dismantled the Denver Nuggets marking their first playoff series win since leaving Buffalo in 1978. At that moment, the Clippers-Lakers series looked inevitable.
And cue the surrealism.
As me and my friend Ben was exiting the arena, fans all around were chanting, “LA-KERS SUCK!” I have to admit it was intoxicating (and no, I wasn’t intoxicated.) I joined in the chanting mostly because my mind couldn’t comprehend the incredulousness of the moment.
Well it turned out the Lakers couldn’t win one more game, and the Clippers took the Suns to Game 7 in the conference semifinals before bowing out. But for one small moment, the Clippers seemed to have shed their past and stepped over the bloated corpse of the Lakers’ dynasty.
That moment, of course, was very small. Between Shaun Livingston’s leg, Elton Brand’s whatever and Mike Dunleavy’s stubbornness, the Clippers retreated back to their rightful place in the cellar. Meanwhile the Lakers got rid of Smush Parker, had Kobe Bryant on the verge of playing in Pluto, got Pau Gasol and won back-to-back titles.
Now here we are after a protracted lockout where the Lakers were rebuffed by NBA Commissioner David Stern in their trade with the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul only to have the Clippers come up from behind and swoop Paul up. And just like that the Clippers have become better than the Lakers. Sorry to all the Lakers’ apologists, but that is a truth that people will need to deal with.
Ask Kobe Bryant’s knees that have no cartilage in them. Ask Pau Gasol’s hamstrings. The Lakers have a new head coach, a new offensive system, no depth in the front court and no depth in the back court. This team were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in last year’s playoffs and lost a big part of their team in Lamar Odom in the last week.
The Clippers have Blake Griffin which made them the most exciting team in Los Angeles last season. They added depth at the point with Chauncey Billups, still have a good big in DeAndre Jordan. By adding Chris Paul to the mix, they have become a more dynamic team, and Griffin’s continued improvement should make the Clippers a hot ticket throughout the 66-game season.
But before we get completely ahead of ourselves, we must not forget one crucial piece of information. THIS IS THE LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS.
As Bomani Jones aptly said on ESPN’s Around the Horn the world’s worst sports franchise owner Donald T. Sterling still owns the team. So it just a waiting game right now until the other shoe drops.
Fatal Staples Center Collapse Brings Merciful Early End To Clippers Game
And the Lakers, though appearing rudderless for now, will come back. They’ll have a plan, they’ll clone the entire Showtime Lakers’ teams. After all, nobody puts baby in the corner.
On a complete aside, thanks to ESPN LA’s Tony Jackson and his tweets this morning I caught a scene of VH1’s “Baseball Wives” this morning. It was a scene where one of the ladies went to get her very first bikini wax. If ever there was anything that confirmed my homosexuality, that was it. It took two hours of hardcore gay porn to flush my psyche. I really hate Tony Jackson.