By Travis Stahl
So I’m on Facebook the other night and my good friend Shaun is posting messages and pictures from the Clippers game like he’s Bill Simmons or something. I’m reading the things Shaun is writing about how it is an important game for playoff seating and how Clippers fans want to play the Lakers in the first round. It took me a few minutes of reading Shawn’s comments to realize, there are people out there rooting for the Los Angeles Clippers. I was shocked. The Clippers have been good all season, it just never occurred to me before that the team has a devout fan following with an actual product on the court to root for now.
The Clippers have been the laughing stock of the NBA for years. The team has had one good run to make the playoffs in 2005 behind Elton Brand but other than that you have to go way back to the Larry Brown days to find a competitive Clippers squad. Like death and taxes, you could always count on the Clippers behind horribly bad organization. When the team pulled off the trade right before this season to acquire point guard Chris Paul all bets were off. Now the team had a leader on the floor to go with talented power forward Blake Griffin and things exploded from there.
With the shortened NBA season the Clippers have just as good a chance of making the finals as any other team in the Western Conference. Other than San Antonio and Oklahoma City at the top two spots, the rest of the projected playoff teams, Memphis, the Lakers, maybe Houston or Utah all have flaws. Right now the Clippers are probably the third best team in the West and if they ever figure out how to play defense (they’re really bad) they have the talent to compete with the Spurs and Thunder. Could you even imagine a Clippers-Lakers Western Conference Finals?
The Clippers are still one player away from being really good. They have Griffin and Paul but DeAndre Jordan at center is only an average player and there is nobody to play on the wings to knock down open jumpers. Things can change quickly in the NBA though and the idea of playing with Paul could be very attractive to upcoming free agents. One good shooting guard or small forward would put the Clippers into elite status.
Clippers fans aren’t worried about how to make the team better at this point, they’re just enjoying the euphoria of the ride. Clipper fans have paid their dues and suffered long enough so it’s hard to root for the team that has been the ultimate underdog for the past 30 years. Of course, Clipper fans are also sitting around just waiting for Paul to blow out a knee and Griffin to get bitten by some rare African spider. Now that would be the Clipper luck people are used to.