Take a trip with me back to the wonderful world of junior high. Everyone is going through "changes," boundaries are being drawn and girls you used to think were annoying were suddenly...hot.
Imagine a crowded hallway of JH kids, clearing the way for the local tough guy. As he walks along, glaring at everyone on his way to his locker, he trips on his untied shoelace. There is a gasp, but everyone pretends to look away.
No one saw a thing.
Now replace that scenario with the local geek. He is adjusting his pocket protector, fumbling with his calculus book as he daydreams about last night's episode of Star Trek when he trips.
Laughter, pointing, front page news in the JH gazette.
It's not about the trip, it's about the trippee. The Los Angeles Clippers are the geek trippee today.
They really have no one to blame but themselves. They have a background more sordid than Arnold Schwarzenegger's. The team is run by a man you hope your daughter never sees a picture of, much less meets.
The team has never seen an NBA Finals game without benefit of a ticket and have wasted draft picks, wasted the few great players they were fortunate enough to obtain and generally, wasted away in LA.
They are the geek.
You know what though? Sometimes, the geek grows up. He steals, er, I mean gets, an idea that turns into the Windows operating system like Bill Gates. He endures the punishment of being who he is, gets a degree, another degree, a great job and then ends up being on the hiring end of the job you want.
Who's laughing now?
The Clippers are in the midst of a transformation worthy of Rachael Leigh Cook in "She's All That." In that movie, with the "help" of a high school jock, the unattractive geek, turns prom queen. The Clippers are getting help from Blake Griffin and are on track to be playoff contenders.
To some, however, they will always be the geek tripping over his shoelace.
The Clippers made a move they needed to move by sending Baron Davis, whose lasting claim to fame as a Clipper will be the lob pass he threw to Blake Griffin in the Kia commercial, to the Cavs. The Cavs took Davis' salary and alleged bad attitude off the Clips hands but wanted their unprotected first-round pick to do it. The Clippers agreed.
Where the last few year's drafts contained players with high upsides in John Wall and Blake Griffin, this one contained yawns and crickets. I'm sure some of the players drafted this year will make an impact in the Association, but does anyone see a breakout star in this draft? No.
The trade was questioned, but not universally panned. When Clipper GM Neil Olshey explained that the franchise wasn't high on the draft, it made sense. The basketball world agreed.
Then that pick turned out to the first one and everything changed. The junior high kids started to point and laugh. The commentaries had a central theme.
"...the Clippers must be mortified to see it turn into the No. 1 overall."
"You don't typically send away unprotected lottery picks in salary dumps, but the Clippers run a different type of kitchen."
"... Clippers' fans who have lost a shot at pairing a playmaker like Irving with a beast like Blake Griffin."
Wait a minute. Wait one doggone Never Nervous Pervis Ellison minute. When did the first pick in the draft become a sure thing? When exactly did Kyrie Irving become the next coming of Magic Johnson?
What did I miss?
Would the Clippers really be any better off with a 19-year-old point guard next year or Mo Williams? Is all this Clipper bashing really necessary or even warranted?
It doesn't happen often, I agree, but the Clippers made the right move.
Mo Williams is an NBA All-Star. Kyrie Irving is a young gun with potential that most can't even exactly gauge. He might be Mo Williams; he might be Deron Williams; he might be Joe Bob Williams. You just never know.
It takes a lot of time and effort to turn a steam ship around. The Clippers are turning. They are working on changing the perception of the team, but to most they will always be that geeky kid stumbling in the halls.
I get it, but in this case, the taunts aren't warranted.
The team did the right thing regardless of the pick they traded away turning into the first pick. Simple as that.
The franchise needs to weather this mini-storm and then do the only thing they can do to get people to stop pointing and laughing: win. Win often, win consistently, win with class and win under pressure.
Believe it or not, the team, with Mo Williams being the playmaker to Blake Griffin's beast, are in good position to do just that next year.
The Clippers, gasp, made the right move.