By Chris Burton / @ChrisB06
During the dog days of summer I remember encountering an article that foretold danger for the Los Angeles Clippers. (Full disclosure: I love these kind of articles. Reading them as a New York Knicks fan makes me feel like my test score ain’t so bad if other people are failing too.) But I paid it no mind. Then the whole De’Andre Jordan “should I stay, should I go” nonsense happened and I was like, “man, if he leaves that’s a real setback.” But I never saw the Clippers being where they are right now. As this season begins and the Clippers get ready to unleash the most talented roster in franchise history, I’m getting my Nero on and ready to watch the most dysfunctional team in the league.
And no, the Sacramento Kings did not get contracted. My Knicks did not get it together and the Lakers are still more public access television than Showtime. Everyone understands these teams will be basura and they will go gently into the night (aka the Draft Lottery).
Time will not be as kind to the Clippers. What the Clippers have that the other teams do not have are expectations. Expectations that should be measured after that despicable implosion against Houston last spring. Expectations that should fade once the world realizes that CP3 is Salieri to Steph’s Amadeus.Expectations that will seem a distant memory once adversity makes team chemistry a scarce commodity.
This is a tale of two teams. I can’t see a locker room where Chris Paul and Paul Pierce get Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith and Blake Griffin to buy into the mission. I see Paul and Doc playing that Pete Rock and CL Smooth as they reminisce over "ubuntu." All that old man wisdom Pierce shared with the upstart Wizards will fall on deaf ears as he tries to reign in Stephenson or help Smith as he backslides into being an outside shooter.
It’s a shame too. Chris Paul really deserves to be in the Finals. Blake Griffin has the talent and willingness to add more tools that should make him a consistent MVP candidate, but that Clippers stink is real, fam. (I respect Paul Pierce. First ballot Hall of Famer. Further immortalized by his work with Wizards last season. Having said that, he gets no parts of sympathy from me. In fact, I look forward to The 8th Grader treating him like a substitute teacher on Friday.) Doc Rivers could have won a Nobel Prize for holding the team together post-Donald Sterling but they are simply in the wrong conference to have visions of a NBA championship.
Finals aspirations belong to the organizations that have the focus from ownership to 15th man. We see this discipline exhibited by the Spurs who consistently remain the class of professional sports. (Spurs might as well announce their alternate uni colors are “teflon”.) The Golden State Warriors clearly love one another. (If ever there was a case for basketball’s answer to Hard Knocks…) Oklahoma City may show themselves strong (word to Fred Hammond) but time will tell if the questions surrounding them will propel or implode their dreams.
No matter the implosion, how many questions every team will have as the season unfolds, pay attention to the post game reports. Look at the body language on the court. Stephenson’s unwillingness to help the Coach’s son up will seem like child’s play in due time. Or Chris Paul being ejected in a meaningless preseason game. The 2015-2016 Clippers should be worried, as there are too many signs that this won’t end well.
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