The Pat-Down


Gunter Kleist

Patrick Bell

As the Los Angeles Clippers took the floor against the Denver Nuggets to start the season, it was the first time they had played a game without star players Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan in the lineup. Instead, their roster consisted of role players at best that play hard and do some things well, but at the end of the day won’t be making any noise come playoff time.

The Clippers used to be the hottest up-and-coming team in the NBA with great potential to win at least one championship. For the majority of their existence in L.A., they had unable to get any attention due to their lack of talent and the Lakers also being in town, being the more popular and historic team in the local market than the Clippers.

But for a brief period, the Lakers absolutely sucked when all-stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash underachieved when they joined the Lakers and Kobe Bryant couldn’t perform at a high level anymore, eventually blowing up the team and focusing on rebuilding. That was the period where the Clippers were on the rise as the team traded for all-star point guard Chris Paul to put alongside growing stars in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. This was their opportunity to take over the L.A. basketball scene and put their mark in NBA history.

When I look back on the Clippers run with Paul, Jordan and Griffin, it is shocking to me how they didn’t make the Western Conference Finals, let alone win at least one championship. This team had such potential to accomplish a lot, and they failed to do so.

Nothing was more shocking than when the Clippers didn’t go on to make the Western Conference Finals in 2015.

That was the year that they ended the regular season on a strong note, and in the first playoff round, they faced the defending NBA Champion in the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs were definitely a challenge for the Clippers as it took seven games and a heroic performance from Chris Paul in game seven, playing injured and hitting the game winning shot to send them on to the second round.

Many people, including myself, thought that that series between the Spurs and the Clippers felt like a conference finals matchup, and that since the Clippers won that series, that they would be able to make it to the finals.

In the second round of the playoffs, the played the Houston Rockets, who were a team that could be considered as having great potential, but weren’t ready to compete for a championship. The Clippers jumped out a three-to-one series lead, but weren’t to get that one win to send them to the conference finals. The Rockets moved on to the conference finals, losing to the Golden State Warriors, the eventual champion in 2015.

2015 should have been the year that they won the NBA Championship. But they didn’t, and now this team is rightfully deserved to be one of the biggest disappointments ever in NBA history.

So, as the Clippers move forward from Griffin, Paul, and Jordan, they will always have in their rear-view mirror of what could have been. Maybe they’ll get another shot at some point to be the team in Los Angeles, but opportunities in life usually come only once.