Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Clippers have been a public circus of drama and dysfunction for more than a year now. Today in the latest episode of #ClipperNation, the Clippers organization is facing some pretty serious allegations.
Even if the allegations turn out to be false, it makes me wonder. What were you actually doing that meant someone thought they could publically make this kind of allegation. There are certain organizations where you would immediately dismiss this kind of claim as nonsense. With the Clippers, though, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.
Could it be that the West Coast finally has their answer to the New York Knicks of the East? If you know me from my podcast, Hardcourt Hunnies, you will have heard me say on multiple occasions that I’m not quick to compare any NBA Franchise to the Knicks nor any other owner to James Dolan. I consider it the highest insult I can bestow upon anyone in the circle of NBA executives. No, wait. Anyone related to the NBA… No no, I got it. North American Sports… anyone in North American Sports. Nope. Anyone. Just anyone.
If I start a sentence with, “You remind me of James Dolan because…” it’s pretty much over.
Now, before you go telling me that all drama is bad…
Game of Thrones
Vikings, Son’s of Anarchy
This Is Us
The majority of movies that have ever won Best Picture at the Academy Awards
We widely acknowledge that drama can be enjoyable. It often even reaches the levels of a cultural phenomenon. Here’s the question, though. Is this drama carefully scripted to keep an audience engaged? Or is it the real thing that wreaks havoc with people’s lives al la Maury, Jerry Springer, and Real Housewives of whatever all the cities are because one just wasn’t enough.
The Clippers Drama started out fairly benignly with Kawhi Leonard’s free agency but that’s not where it ended up.
Anyway… the Clippers. Let’s recap, shall we?
The Summer of Kawhi
As a Toronto Raptors fan, the Summer of Kawhi was really kind of a letdown in hindsight. I mean, of course, “The Shot” happened and every Toronto fan who watched it live will always remember where they were when it went down. Pun absolutely intended. The only time the Toronto fanbase had to enjoy the win was until after the parade was finished. We spent the rest of the summer rolling our eyes when ignorant casual fans who don’t even watch Raptors basketball proceed to treat us as if they knew more about our team than we did because they watched, ‘”.. those 7 Games against Golden State.”
Yeah, that was a real conversation with a Knicks fan. My response? “The Finals were 6 Games. Your credibility is shot.” I know you’ll read this. You know who you are.
But I digress…
Do me and yourselves a favour. Read this next section in your head like the narrator from Jane the Virgin. You’re welcome in advance.
The Clippers’ reality show-Esque ride started with Leonard’s free agency. ‘The Shot’ had already been an NBA first. Now, would Kawhi Leonard make another unprecedented move? Will he become the first player ever to win finals MVP and not suit up for the same team the following season?
You gotta admit, you couldn’t have written it better.
Toronto fans are still trying to move on. Not because we feel any kinda way about it as a fanbase. Are we taking some pleasure in the fact that he clearly should have stayed in Toronto? Damn straight we are. We’re human. But we wouldn’t have been upset if it worked out the first year in LA either. It would have been less fun for sure though. (I hope I’ve got a decent handle on #WeTheNorth’s overall feelings. Feel free to @ me either way.
It’s because you all (NBA fans in general) think we must feel some kind of way so you won’t… Let. It. Go.
The Clippers 2020 Season
The Paul George Trade
Looking back on the 2019-20 season, I’ve realized that the Knick dysfunction (which has reached mythical proportions at this point) was much less openly dysfunctional than that of the Clippers. Think about that for a minute. James Dolan and company managed to piss off their most loyal celebrity fan in 2019-20 and the Clippers were still worse. I’ve been reluctant to say it but, Knicks fans! Your luck might just have finally turned. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for ya.
We all know the Clippers made win-now moves in trading away promising young prospects Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari who both had exceptional seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. SGA saw the biggest boost in productivity, increasing from 10.8 PPG in the 2018-19 season to 19 after the trade. Gallinari didn’t quite meet the PPG average of his best season (19.8 PPG in 2018-19). But his 18.7 is still excellent work. Take into consideration that he was the third option behind SGA and Chris Paul and I would argue that an even better PPG average was comfortably within Gallinari’s abilities.
Oh, and the picks. More of the many many picks that OKC will be juggling for years to come. Am I the only one who pictures the OKC front office diving into mountains of picks the way Scrouge McDuck used to swim through his coins?
Okay. Moving on…
The Lou, I-Was-Just-in-and-Out-of-the-Strip-Club-Where-I-Have-a-Wing-Flavor-Named-After-Me- (gasp) Even-Though-I-Was-Photographed-Sitting-Down-with-Some-Rapper Williams Fiasco
Try saying that five times fast. Seriously, if the nicknames people deserved rolled off the tongue the way “Sweet Lou” does the would be a much more honest place.
Another of not enough degrees of separation Raptor and Clippers fans have is perennial Sixth Man of the Year Candidate, Lou Williams. Is the man a walking bucket? You better believe it. Is there a reason the Toronto Raptors front office (who Raptors fans know recruit for character even before talent) didn’t make him an offer when he became a free agent in summer 2015? You better fuckin’ believe it. Cause if Lou William was a character guy, this mess never happens in the first place.
All the Preferential Treatment
I really hope being close to home was worth it for Leonard. ‘Cause there’s a good chance he has another ring right now if he had stayed in Toronto. Reports that Leonard arrived late for flights (amongst other gripes) because of living in and driving from San Diego to LA were very interesting to me. Leonard done took it too far. The Raptors were happy to accommodate him in any way they could and they had buy-in from the entire team before they won a Championship. Imagine how much that chemistry and comradery would have increased if they ran it back.
Instead of being offered inches and taking a mile as the old idiom goes, The Clippers offered light-years and Leonard took full advantage. They handed Leonard enough rope to hang them all.
Also, I don’t know that much about Los Angeles. Mostly what I’ve seen in movies if I’m honest. But one thing I know for a fact, traffic is horrible in LA. I thought that was universal knowledge. Can someone please tell me how Leonard missed that memo?
Add to that the reports that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were allowed to decide during the game if they would play or not. Seriously, what could go wrong?
Poor Playoff Showing
The Clippers’ season ended disappointingly for a team most thought would at least make it to the Western Conference Finals. Instead, the Clippers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in seven games in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Ooof!
The only thing that could have made the preferential treatment a non-issue would have been the Clippers being around for the ultimate Battle of LA. Kawhi Leonard did what he needed to do averaging 28.2 PTS, 9.3 REB and 5.5 AST to go along with 2.3 STL and just under a block. It’s only marginally less than the 30.5 PTS he averaged in Toronto but that was the point, wasn’t it? Plus his totals for rebounds, assists and steals (9.1, 3.9 and, 1.7 respectively) were slightly higher in LA.
It was self-proclaimed Playoff P who failed to prove that all the load management was worth it. Paul George’s 20.2 PPG was never going to be enough to propel the Los Angeles Clippers to the final stand in the Western Conference. The Clippers organization, fans, and the NBA community in general expected to see at least the 2018-19 28.6 PPG Paul George. His other stats weren’t down enough that they’re worth mentioning here. This story is about the buckets… or rather, bricks. Add to that PG13’s inability to or disinterest in taking any responsibility and you’ve got yourself a perfect receipt for drama.
Paul George’s INSANE Contract
Why a team would spend as much as $226M over five seasons on a player that has failed so spectacularly to meet expectations was completely beyond me. Until a conversation with my roommate offered a different perspective. He read that the Clippers had to overpay George to stay because if they didn’t extend him there was a good chance they lose him in free agency. Then they will have given up a crap ton to get him, (See heading “The Paul George Trade” above), not won a ring, and had him walk away. Less than ideal outcome numbers one and two had already happened. Part number three had to be avoided at all costs. $226M is quite the cost, wouldn’t you say?
Next Season On #ClipperNation
That brings the timeline back to the present and the news we opened with. It would take a pretty drastic turn around for the Clippers to recover from all of this drama in just one season. Especially when certain players who were the catalysts for the Clippers newfound if unwelcome notariety are still on the roster.
Hopefully for Clippers fans, taking the boys out of LA will take the LA out of the boys. That said, the move to Inglewood is still a ways away. In the meantime, I intend to enjoy every minute of the drama, drama, drama.
If you liked this check me out on my podcast Hardcourt Hunnies. New episodes drop every Monday. I’m also live every Thursday night on Hardcourt Hunnies Presents #NBATwitter. Follow us @HCHunnies to keep up with everything we have going on.
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