An Ode to a Rare Win for the L.A. Clippers

Robert Kleeman@@RobertKleemanSenior Analyst IMay 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 25:  Zach Randolph #50 and Fred Jones #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers celebrate in the final seconds of the game with the Boston Celtics on February 25, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Clippers won 93-91.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

There are a handful of simple acts in this world that can demoralize and even scar you for life.

The king of them all is putting on a basketball jersey with the words "Los Angeles Clippers" on it.

Why even show up to the arena with that hopeless, long look?

Just by donning this disgraceful brand of red and white, you are announcing to everyone your participation in a tradition of losers and losing.

If we celebrate the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics for their commitment to winning with a thumbs up, we raise a different finger to honor Donald Sterling and his sideshow circus.

When no one thought another organization could challenge those Isiah Thomas and Larry Brown New York Knicks teams for absurdity and selfishness, like a certain national figure, Sterling's bunch stood up with no shame and shouted, "yes we can."

Now, one unlucky No. 1 draft selection, likely Oklahoma University star Blake Griffin, will be the next victim to wear the ugliest of clown suits.

Except, unlike the clowns that work kiddo birthday parties, these Clippers can't do any cool tricks. They don't jump out of small boxes, juggle bowling pins, or make balloon animals.

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Oh, they ooze talent.

It takes remarkable talent to ruin a second-rate franchise the way Sterling has. They only wish they were just chasing the Lakers.

Some call his arrogant, cheapskate philosophy good business. He can make that argument with the money in his bank account.

The Clippers have stayed in Los Angeles because Sterling loves those lucrative radio and TV deals that wouldn't carry the same financial pizazz somewhere else.

They call it Hollywood for a reason, folks.

If you had a chance to move the team to Kansas City or Tulsa, OK, would you give up the prospect of Billy Crystal as a fan or the already storied Staples Center as your home?

Funny Donald, the only stories written about you in that building are rated NC-NO because no human being should be subjected to such disgusting nightly displays.

You did have that one season with Elton Brand and Sam Cassell...Seriously, one season.

As the town's real team, the one that cares about winning and championships, prepared to host the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, the Clippers headed to Secaucus and shocked a few people.

They won the lottery.

Yes, that one.

The same one that enabled San Antonio to land future Hall of Famer and four-time champion Tim Duncan.

It was difficult to watch the Clippers score the upset against the favored Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder and not picture the basketball version of This is Spinal Tap.

Instead of "puppet show and Spinal Tap," the sign at the outdoor amphitheater toward the film's end would read, "the Lakers, and then...uh...uh...those other guys."

If Ferris Bueller took a day off, this franchise hasn't shown up to work in years.

I would trust Sean William Scott's character from Dude, Where's My Car? to run a pro basketball team better than Sterling.

Clippers fans, all two of them, should be asking, "Dude, where's my franchise?"

Except, something changed Tuesday night.

The Clippers were the beneficiaries of good luck. They won something valuable for a change.

Team president Andy Roeser offered a simple fist pump and a grand smile when NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the surprising news.

As the Clippers basked in a rare moment of triumph, I had to wonder...how will they botch this one?

This, after all, is the team that employed an inept general manager for 22 years and found themselves defending a senseless discrimination lawsuit when they found the good sense to fire him.

Good sense meet the Clippers...Um, Clippers meet good sense.

Winning the top pick in this year's lottery means more than in most seasons. In 2007, there was Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. Rudy Fernandez and Thaddeus Young were later picks in that draft.

In 2003, even after LeBron James, there was Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. The Dallas Mavericks selected all-around forward Josh Howard with the 29th pick. Kirk Hinrich, a top 10 selection, has proven to be a solid, all-around point guard.

There are plenty of Darko Milicic's in this draft. Milicic's without the hype. Players whose greatest NBA act may be ripping off a jersey after another embarrassing defeat and selling it on eBay.

If this draft boasts point guards galore, it still doesn't pack the punch of one that will change several franchises fortunes for the better.

There is Griffin and then everybody else. Griffin must improve his defense, his activity around the basket, his post game, and his shot. Still, most scouts believe he will become the kind of superstar that alters losing cultures.

That's why, if he becomes everything people think and hope he will be, he could mean so much to the Clippers.

They lured Baron Davis to Los Angeles with wads of money and the promise of Elton Brand as a teammate.

Brand said adios and sought his own $80 million payday in Philadelphia.

Now, the team that loves bad contracts like Kirstie Alley loves the fridge and the frying pan gets a chance at a semi-fresh start.

Eric Gordon still plays immature, reckless basketball—but he carries himself like a nice young man should and maybe he can become a winner.

The Clippers need winners to offset Zach Randolph's Krispy Kreme attitude and body and Ricky and Baron Davis. Winning and the Clippers usually go together like a Taco Bell and clean restrooms.

The Lakers are Chanel No. 5, and Kobe Bryant will likely win his fourth championship in June. The Clippers are that perfume you buy at the dingy gas station on the rack next to the melted Snickers and the table with the hot plate holding the month-old hot dogs.

What can Griffin do for the Clippers?

They should enjoy finding that out, even if he turns out to be a bust.

You never know with college prospects, do you?

Enjoy this rare win Clippers fans, and try not think about Roeser's answer to Lisa Salters' question about who the team would select.

"I'm going to call [Coach Mike Dunleavy] right now to discuss that with him."

Shiver. Cringe. Gas station perfume again.

If NBA franchises could pick different kinds of brains, Sterling and his club would choose the "aby-normal" one.

For one night at least, we should celebrate them for it.

Hey, if William Hung was given the chance to be successful, why not the Clippers?

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