Oh the Clippers, they love to toy with their fans. We long-time Clipper fans and season ticket holders have learned how to separate potential from reality, promise from certainty, and what if from what is. We’ve learned the best way to deal with heartbreak is to never expect anything from our team. However, this year there's reason for optimism. So much optimism, in fact, that we're willing to get our hopes up and risk another heart-break.
This coming year, the playoffs are within reach, and talking about the Clippers as a contender will no longer get you laughed out of your local sports bar.
Here are 5 reasons why the Clippers are poised for their greatest season in history:
Along with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Lions, the Clippers are one of the most consistently bad franchises in professional sports.
The good news is that the players on the Clipper's roster are fresh out of the incubator, too young to be aware of this franchise's long and sad history. Their ignorance and naivety may be the franchise's saving grace.
In their second season together as a unit, there should be a lot of improvement amongst these youngsters, and the wins should pile up.
Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Eric Gordon, and Al-Faruq Aminu are all under 24 years of age, and they're poised to build something special.
With DeAndre Jordan (assuming he resigns) and Blake Griffin starting up front, and all-star Chris Kaman coming off the bench, the Clippers may have the strongest front-line in all of basketball.
Griffin is a scoring beast. DeAndre Jordan is a shot-blocking giant, and Chris Kaman has the sweetest mid-range shot of any center in the game. With the high-flying athleticism of the two youngsters, combined with the experience and skill of Chris Kaman, there's not too many teams that will be able to compete with the Clippers in the paint.
The Clippers are easily the most athletic team in the NBA, and it could be argued that they are one of the most athletic ever assembled.
In this team, we have slam-dunk champion Blake Griffin, who was second in the NBA in dunks last season; DeAndre Jordan, who was third in dunks and may fly even higher than Griffin; there's Eric Gordon, who was in the 2010 dunk contest; Eric Bledsoe, who's likely the best shot-blocking point guard in the NBA; rookie Travis Leslie (from Georgia), who's regarded as the best dunker to come out of the draft in years, and finally, Al-Faruq Aminu, who'd be the highest flyer on 90% of the teams in the NBA.
If Moe Williams can learn to perfect the lob-pass, this years Clippers should be like watching the Harlem Globetrotters (only you can expect the Clippers to lose more... a lot more).
Stating that this could be the greatest season in Clipper's history is not comparable to stating something like, "this could be the Laker's best season", because frankly, the Clippers have almost always stunk.
2006-07 was probably their best season in history. In that year, they had a winning record, and went to the second round of the NBA playoffs where they lost to the Phoenix Suns because of a huge coaching gaffe by then coach, Mike Dunleavy.
Other than that, there's not much to celebrate in Clipperland.They've been to the playoffs only 7 times, and they've never advanced past the second round.
I'm certain there's not a more pathetic franchise, historically, than our Clippers. Making this season the best ever would mean winning 48 games, and getting to the second or third round of the playoffs.
Besides Michael Jordan there has never been a player in the NBA who has, on a more consistent basis, jumped up into the air with the ball, surrounded by defenders and out of options, defying odds and logic by throwing the ball down through the hoop after all the defenders had already fallen back to earth.
And throwing it down is the correct way to describe what Blake Griffin does. He doesn't dunk, he goes over the rim, and throws it down, sometimes knocking his defenders to the floor, sometimes using their head as a springboard, and sometimes hitting his own head on the backboard.
I'm not sure how the play depicted in the picture above ended, but I'd be surprised if it ended any other way besides Blake Griffin throwing it down on Chris Anderson's head.
Blake Griffin, in only his first season, became a superstar. He averaged 22.5, 12, and 3.5, played in every game, and had maybe the most statistically dominant rookie season of all-time.
The man is beast of an athlete, and he is only beginning to tap into his talent. An NBA team has never won a championship without having a superstar, and now, finally, we have ours.
So, in 2011, we Clipper fans are expecting big things... by Clipper standards.