Are the Clippers Really as Flashy as Magic's Showtime L.A. Lakers?
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Maybe Magic Johnson was being facetious on purpose. Or maybe he really believes in discrediting himself.
Either way, the following statement he made as an ESPN analyst is absurd.
"I thought I would never, ever see Showtime again. And I was the architect of Showtime. The Clippers? That's Showtime. They’re the greatest show on Earth."
The words came at halftime on ESPN after the Clippers scored 42 points in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets.
Playful and flippant as it may have been, the comparison is far too premature. Like buying a ring on the second date or comparing Andrew Luck to Joe Montana premature.
Could this Clippers team ever be as good as the Showtime Lakers?
Where's the perspective?
The Los Angeles Clippers are the darlings of the YouTube NBA, but they are nowhere near the Showtime Lakers of the '80s.
The Showtime era consisted of five NBA titles and consistently spectacular play like had never been seen before.
The Clippers haven't won once this year. OK, now that was flippant.
Obviously, of all people, Johnson is the most qualified to make the call. But Johnson says a lot for reaction, and his quote of calling the Clippers "Showtime" is just that.
Slow down, Magic, they don't have you.
The Chris Paul-Magic Johnson Comparison
Chris Paul is elite, but not in the I-just-made-you-lose-and-laugh way of Johnson.
Let's start here:
Magic was arguably the greatest point guard of all time. He packaged an element of showmanship that Paul can't sniff.
Paul is plenty crafty, and still offers his own package of highlights, but he's Drake compared to Frank Sinatra.
Johnson had a way of making plays happen and invented his own style of play.
He led an offense that was built at breakneck pace. The 1986-87 Lakers scored 117.8 points per game on a team 51.6 percent shooting. That season, Johnson was averaging 12.2 assists to with 23.9 points on 52.2 percent shooting.
The Clippers are currently not even top five in scoring this season, currently ranked seventh in the league at 101.6 points per game. Paul has great numbers at 16.1 points and 9.3 assists, but they still don't compare to Johnson's.
The Blake Factor
Blake Griffin is great in this way:
And this way:
And even this way:
But not this way:
And there's no way he matches up to this:
The sky hook was unstoppable.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could create his own shot anywhere in the lane, and he hit for a career 55.9 percent. He averaged 23.4 points in 1985-86 though his rebounding numbers did begin to dip.
By the mid '80s, Abdul-Jabbar had already won six MVP awards and titles in 1971 and 1980. He was also named to five All-Defensive NBA teams by then, and earned a All-Defensive Second Team in 1984.
Blake Griffin is laughs and dunks, but he's not that type of player.
No One Worthy
Willie Green is no James Worthy, even if he is combined with Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe.
Though depth is valuable in the regular season, it does mean less in the crucial final stretches of a playoff series.
None of those guys are "Big Game James," who earned the Finals MVP in 1988 and his nickname through his clutch play.
Worthy is a more reliable scorer and never shot below 53 percent in the entire ‘80s decade. Only Barnes shoots 50 percent for the Clippers.
The Bottom Line
The Showtime Lakers won five titles and the Clippers have never even been to a conference finals.
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I had the opportunity to ask Chauncey Billups about it before Wednesday night's loss at Golden State. As a veteran and a champion, he brings perspective to the conversation. Billups said:
“Obviously it feels good to be looked at like that. I respect the game, I respect the older game; I respect the teams that have won it. We haven’t won it. Yeah, our style of play is showtime-ish, the way we play is exciting. But we haven’t won anything, man."
The Lakers are one of the more intriguing teams to watch this first half of the season, and guys like Paul and Griffin provide offensive highlights. That might be as close to Showtime as this Los Angeles team gets.
"In that sense, I can see it," Billups said. "We’re an exciting team. You’re going to see something that you probably haven’t seen in awhile every night with us, so to that point, I can see the comparison."
The Clippers, similar to the Lakers' Showtime years, play well defensively too.
But at the end of the day, it's way too early to call this Clippers franchise anything close to the Showtime Lakers.
They're still better for highlights than they are for the postseason.
Follow @jimmypspencer on Twitter for NBA news and analysis.
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