When Ryan Hollins is posterizing people, you know your team is feeling it.
The biggest laughingstock of a franchise in NBA history is, for the first time ever, looking like the best team in basketball. The Clips have already beaten Miami, Memphis twice, San Antonio twice, the Lakers twice, Boston by 29, Chicago, etc...
Basically, for those who have Michael Olowokandi jerseys still hanging in the closet and memories of getting blown out in the worst arena in sports history, things are absolutely stupendous in the Clipper Nation. It feels very surreal. Sure, in 2006 the team had a better regular season than the Lakers and was just one win away from the Western Conference Finals, but hopes of a championship with this roster were never serious. They couldn't just skate by on good looks forever.
Now the hopes are real. Bandwagon fans are being welcomed in droves, and some of them are even Laker loyalists who are tired of dealing with more drama than an episode of The Bachelor... And, by the way, the first episode of this season was as dramatic as they come—drunk girls drooling on themselves, a desperate girl in a wedding dress, and a girl with only one arm (awkwardness reduced since she is attractive and handles the situation well).
The Lakers have 16 banners on the wall at Staples Center. You've got to respect that, but this year's edition of the purple and gold is flat-out boring, even when they manage to win a game. Metta interviews are the only thing really fun to watch.
Chris Paul, who would be the MVP if the season ended today, wasn't even playing as the Clippers flirted with a 30-point margin of victory in Memphis on Monday night. Eric Bledsoe, his uber-athletic backup, didn't turn the ball over once and guided the offense comfortably. Matt Barnes remained red-hot, Lamar Odom led the team in minutes and continued to work towards pre-Dallas form and Grant Hill played 17 minutes without breaking something. It was magical, especially since Paul's son beat Hill one-on-one.
There are still things to hate amidst this feel-good story, however. Clipper Darrel continues to squeal (he is the West Coast version of Fireman Ed), color guy Mike Smith still says "like" every other word during the broadcasts and the bench has given itself the nickname "A Tribe Called Bench."
The best part about Clippers on ESPN......no Mike Smith— Jay Money (@RogersParkJon) January 10, 2013
Vinny Del Negro still looks like a used car salesman and appears to get Dangerfield respect levels in the huddle. Barnes is still Barnes in that you only like him if you went to UCLA or he plays for your team (Clipper fans love him right now). Donald Sterling will always be Donald Sterling. Griffin will always whine just a bit too much to refs.So what?
Someone please comment below and tell me which pro sports team in the past decade has been more exciting to watch. If you haven't seen a game, tune in, and catch the Clipper broadcast if you can.
Despite Smith's Bill Walton-esque exaggerations, play-by-play legend Ralph Lawler is a peach. He sports a fantastic mustache, doesn't hold back in punking Smith on-air and, when Griffin throws down, acts as if he just popped six Viagras and is watching Debbie Does Dallas for the first time (he owns it on LaserDisc). Does any broadcaster deserve it more than a guy who has suffered through calling Clipper games since the 70s? He's called two winning playoff series in 36 years. It will be a travesty if he retires without the Clippers winning a championship.
The next date circled on the calendar is February 3rd, when Kevin Durant pays a visit for a Sunday afternoon game after the Clippers fell in overtime in OKC earlier in the season. A decisive win in that would make L.A. the hands-down favorite to win the title.
Look out, Thunder, Ryan Hollins is coming for you.