The Evolution of A Clipper Revolution
Were the Clippers Fighting A 31-Year Image?
June 11, 2015
By Bosmat Eynav
The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers are rival teams who've been struggling for respect over the past decades. And yet, one of those teams is in the NBA finals.
I had to ask myself amidst this energy-charged playoff season, what was the key component that allowed the Warriors to beat the Rockets and proceed to finals, but forced the Clippers to fall short?
Maybe it's naive to keep asking why the Clippers didn't win the conference semi-finals. Basketball analysts can point to dozens of skill-based and technical reasons. But I simply cannot admit that the Rockets were stronger than the Clippers because I fundamentally don't agree that it's true.
I think that underlying the Clipper organization, there is a bigger issue that caused the unexpected loss.
Let's look at some quick facts. Clipper/Rocket encounters during the regular season found the Clippers prevailing with scores of 102-85 and 110-85, and losing with scores of 100-98 and 110-115. When you look at the spread of the games the Clippers won, you can see they dominated those games.
However, as we all know, the playoffs have their own drama and it is precisely the moment when the mentality, drive, and spirit of a team supercedes the physical talent and conditioning of the players.
This is exactly what I want share with you -- my point of view about the trap the Clippers are locked in.
The city of Los Angeles is associated with the Lakers, the "legendary club" with many stars and championships. Laker fans have enjoyed decades of pride and glory. On the other hand, for 31 years since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles from San Diego in 1984 the Clippers have been seen as a team of basketball scraps, the losers, a team on which nobody could depend. Maybe even worse then that, they got stuck with a catchphrase that was uttered time and time again – "The Clippers suck."
This kind of destructive image built over decades is very hard to shed and brings with it a negative force that drives the team down. Despite a critical turning point three years ago when the Clippers started to ascend in the basketball stratosphere while the Lakers slowly collapsed, the city still held the belief that the Clippers were losers. I believe this sentiment represents a powerful collective energy that affects the spirit of the team.
I fundamentally believe that the Clippers don't have the energetic backing of Los Angeles. How many times have I heard someone say, "The Clippers are fine, but I'm a Laker fan." When more then 10 million people have perceived you as a loser and haven't believed in you, and even make fun of you, it is affecting the mind and the spirit of the team.
As we know, during the playoffs, fans become a huge factor. Just look at the opening game of the NBA Finals and the massive support the Golden State Warriors received from the Bay Area. Look at the powerful energy that accumulated in that Warrior arena every game during the season. The Warrior players step onto the court knowing they have this strong backing from their fans and that millions of people love them, care for them, support them, and most importantly, believe in them.
Even with the overwhelming negative Clipper vibe still hanging over the city of Los Angeles, the "B team" focused their energy over these past few seasons and proved themselves worthy. This takes courage and to put it bluntly, it takes balls. But even so, maybe they have had to spend too much of their time fighting an image rather than fighting to win.
They were almost there this year, but that collective energy filled with skeptical thoughts and cynical catchphrases continued to surround them. From my point of view, this was the missing link in the semi-final series -- that the Los Angeles family didn't believe in the their own sons. That is what you get when you dismiss and belittle someone, whether it is your son, your idea, yourself, or even one of the strongest teams in the NBA.