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Clippers Continue To Slip and Slide as They Struggle Through Mediocrity

Jose SalviatiCorrespondent IIDecember 16, 2009

"Mediocre" is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "moderate to inferior in quality; of no exceptional quality or ability; poor to middling in quality."

The NBA definition this year is much shorter and concise: "Los Angeles Clippers."

When you are really good or really bad, the spotlight shines.

When you are mediocre, you don't warrant enough interest for even so much as a flicker.

When you are really good or really bad, publicity follows

When you are mediocre, you fly under the radar.

Mediocrity is an acceptable short-term stopping point. All of the NBA's bests have spent time there. 

The Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls all rented space at 555 Middle of the Road Lane. Those franchises (with the exception of the Bulls) have found a way out. The Clippers, it seemed, had signed a long-term lease.

For every up there is a down for the dribblers from downtown.

Since the shot clock was introduced, do you know which NBA team held an opponent to only 16 points in the second half of a game? That mark represented an NBA record for the lowest point total in a half. Who was this defensive juggernaut?

Clippers—up.

The oldest team to never appear in the NBA Finals?

Clippers—down.

The largest margin of defeat by an NBA team at least 20 games over .500 to a team under .500 was 32 points. The 44-23 Utah Jazz lost to—guess who?

Yep. Clippers—up.

Only three NBA teams have never won an NBA championship, conference championship or a division championship. The Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Bobcats, and...

...Clippers—down.

The last few years have seen a shift, however, and it appears the Clippers have a roadmap out. They put a deposit (in the form of Blake Griffin) on a place on Potential Realized Road and are just hoping they have enough money in the bank when the check comes in. 

Their fans are hoping they find a way out, too. I know, I've talked to all three of them.

Clipper fans are an interesting bunch. 

Los Angeles is home to lots of transplants from all over the country. Drawn to the wonder that is L.A. by scenes of blue skies and warm weather on TV while they bundle up and slide another log of the fire after clearing the driveway of snow and ice. The Clippers' marketing team understands this and regularly lets all transplanted Angelenos know when their team is in town.

Where good teams market themselves, mediocre teams market the opposition.

"Hey, Clippers fans, come get your ticket to see LeBron, Kobe, and more."

I really, really hate those commercials.

There are, of course, some real Clippers fans. People who love the underdog and have fond memories of 2006, when the team actually competed.

Those fans deserve better than another year of rooting for and supporting a mediocre team. Those fans deserve some excitement in the arena in which they watch their team play. Those fans deserve a respite from the chuckles when they proclaim their support for the Clips.

Those fans crossed their fingers as their team began a six-game homestand on Nov. 29. 

The then-7-10 Clippers had four sub-.500 teams and a reeling and beatable Spurs club at home. This was their chance to make a statement. Their chance to go on the road with a very respectable 11-12 record after a 4-2 homestand or even 12-11 after a 5-1 run at Staples.

It was all possible. It was there for the taking. Another step off the hamster wheel.

Instead, the Clippers went back to where they are comfortable. 

Three wins, three losses.

Welcome back to mediocrity, Clippers. Please don't get too comfortable.

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