- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Basketball
Long suffering Clipper fans are finally being repaid for their loyalty.
Right now in Los Angeles it is all about the Clippers, as Blake Griffin and other young players are running their opponents off of the court. Photo by Jason Lewis
Chris Paul (right) was supposed to be with the Lakers, but instead he is lighting the league up with the Clippers. The Lakers ended up with Steve Nash (left), who finally looks like he is past his prime. The Clippers came out way ahead on that one. Photo by Jason Lewis
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Clipper fans have taken their lumps. Not just here and there, but for the better part of the past 30 years. Since moving to Los Angeles the Clippers have never won a division title and they have only made the playoffs five times, advancing to the second round only twice.
But for Clipper fans it is not about the past, because today is a new day, and they are finally being rewarded with one of the best teams in the NBA. For the first time ever the Clippers are NBA Finals contenders.
Clipper fans Jeffery Jett and Quincey Strange have struggled through the bad seasons, but now they are on top of the world, as they never jumped ship.
"It's gratifying to see the team play at such a high level and with great team chemistry," said Jett, who is a long time Clipper season ticket holder. "It more than just 'Lob City.' All the pieces are coming together. It's been lots of hard work for the team and organization."
Strange has seen a lot of players come and go, and he has seen many draft picks flop. For him, this season is about new beginnings.
"As long as a healthy Chris Paul is running the point with supporting talent, we will be contenders," Strange said. "Since Andre Miller was traded we have lacked a long term solution at point. Sam Cassell was nice but we all knew that was a short term fix. We did go to the playoffs with Sam!"
The Clippers and their fans have never had the type of expectations that this current team has.
"Our expectations are very high," Jett said. "The team is definitely playing at playoff level and should exceed last year's playoff run."
Last year the Clippers made great strides by getting out of the first round for only the second time since they moved to Los Angeles. That was nice, but now fans are hungry for more. What are the expectations?
"NBA Finals," Strange said. "We got some payback for San Antonio if healthy, and OKC can be beat in a series now with Harden gone. Westbrook's decision making is killing them!"
As excited as Strange is, he is still a realistic fan.
"Let's be real, nobody is beating the Heat in seven," Strange said.
Even if they fall short of a title, this team has fans buzzing.
"The team is exciting and fun to watch," Jett said. "Everyone seems to focus on winning and encouraging each other. The bench is strong and takes pride in their contributions. To have a month like they did in December shows their focus and how determined they are to keep winning."
This is by far the best roster that the Clippers have ever put together, as they have two All-Star players in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and they are surrounded by other talented players.
"The youth on the squad has big boy game! We need to keep them and find affordable plug in players," Strange said. "I would trade players like Butler, Barnes, Odom, before DeAndre, Bledsoe, or Hollins."
Interesting enough, these two Clipper fans are not rooting against the Lakers, or enjoying their struggles.
"Not a Laker hater," Strange said. "I like that Los Angeles is relevant in the sports world. I would rather have the Lakers killing it also so we get some good local smack talk going. Laker fans are a shell of their former swag. I only take pride in being better than East Coast squads."
"This year it's really not about the Lakers, who are struggling, but striving to be the best team in the West," Jett said. "Oklahoma is still the defending (Western Conference) champion and San Antonio is having a solid year. Those are the teams we must beat to get to the Finals."