This is the season the Clippers will rise above the rest.
Three things we no longer see in the NBA: great nicknames, bell bottom pants and immediate success.
Gone are the days of Ice Man, Magic, Microwave and The Rifleman. Today's stars are Tim, Blake, Kevin and Chris.
We will never again see that certain swag an NBA/ABA coach used to pull off with regularity, as they strolled the sidelines in plaid pants and overalls.
Unlike great nicknames and disco attire however, immediate success has not been all that prevalent in the history of the NBA, but it has happened.
The Celtics were a pathetic 24-58 in the 2006-07 season then. After some nice offseason acquisitions, they went 66-16 and won it all in 2007-08. They had no rivalries built up with teams they had lost to in the Eastern Conference the year before. No motivation to get past any particular team or go further than any particular postseason series. They just won, immediately.
It happens, but rarely.
Normally an NBA Champion has to go through growing pains. The pain of surviving the injury of a star.
Learning the lessons that can only be learned after an embarrassing post season sweep. NBA Champions get there through trial by fire.
Has any franchise been more under fire longer than the Clippers?
Over the last few years, they survived what should have been Blake Griffins rookie season after he was lost for the year due to injury, then an unceremonious exit in last season's playoffs. BG came back strong, and the team learned how to win a game seven on the road, then how to cope with the pain of being swept. Trials lead to lessons which, if you let them, lead to growth.
Of course, those lessons are nothing compared to the fire this franchise has been under prior to the aforementioned last few years. Clippers fans with weak stomachs, please turn away now.
Benoit Benjamin, Ron "The Inmate" Harper, Michael Olowokandi, The Clipper Curse, lawsuits, laughingstock, lack of payments, all leading up to being labeled the worst sports franchise, ever!
I mean, can it get any worse than that?
This Clippers franchise has paid its dues over the last few decades. This Clippers team paid its dues over the last few seasons. The time is now to start collecting.
The Western Conference is wide open now that the prohibitive favorite OKC Thunder have blinked. The Lakers look lost, are must-miss-TV for millions of fans in LA, thanks to Time Warner's inability to work out deals with Cox, DirectTV and Dish, and enter this season as the number two basketball team in Los Angeles.
The dues have been paid, the table has been set, it's time for the Clippers to shine. Anything less than the Western Conference Finals is a loss for this team. The franchises first Finals appearance would be the cake, winning it would be the icing.
It's possible. It starts tonight.