Clippers Close 2009 and Look to 2010 With Hope and a Plan in Place

Jose SalviatiCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2009

Lisa Dillman is the Clippers beat writer for the L.A. Times.  She recently called the squad "the most perplexing team in the NBA."  With apologies to Clipper broadcaster Ralph Lawler, "BINGO!".

Dillman hit the nail squarely on the head.  I used the phrase "Clipper two-step" a while back ago to explain how the Clippers seem to never build on success or wallow in failure for too long.  It seems this year has been one step backward for every step forward.

Perplexing indeed.

What is most bothersome to a fan of the game is watching a team not exhibit hustle 100 percent of the time.  Its one thing to lose to a better team, but it's another altogether to get out-hustled by any team.  At Portland the Clippers were out-hustled.

They had a chance to build on the recent amazing victory against Boston but failed.  Boston, it seems, has yet to recover from that loss, losing their next two on the road.  Where the sting of the loss has yet to leave the Celtics, the momentum from the win left the Clippers in Portland.

Tonight's game against the 76ers marks the end of the 2009 season for the Clippers and the end of the decade as well.  There are some marked similarities in the season and the decade for the team from L.A.

This decade saw what was arguably the best Clipper team of all time in 2006.  This season saw what was arguably the most exciting Clipper victory of all time when Baron Davis hit the game winner with 0.0 on the clock.

This decade brought the team stellar play at the point guard spot thanks in large part to Sam Cassell.  This season brought us a rejuvenated Baron Davis.

This decade was full of promise.  The start of this season began with hope.

Now, its time to turn the page on 2009 and the decade and look forward.  The team moves into 2010; the continuation of a season and a new decade, with hope (which is common for the Clippers) and a plan (which is not common for the LAC).

The Clippers plan is evident and rounding into shape well.  They have a nucleus of young energetic players with just the right mix of veteran leadership. Their last few draft picks and trades have been great and the team is poised for a winning 2010.

Of course, great plans have been known to blow up thanks to chance, bad luck or a badly twisted ankle.  Or even a broken knee cap.

The broken kneecap of course belongs to Blake Griffin.  The Clippers plan doesn't begin and end with Griffin, but to say he isn't a big part of the blueprint would be silly. 

The year 2010 and at least the next few seasons should bring us a Clipper starting five of Baron Davis and Eric Gordon at guard, Al Thornton and Blake Griffin at forward, and Chris Kaman at center.  That is a formidable lineup with one former All-Star (Davis), one present All-Star (Kaman) and at least one future All-Star (Gordon).

The excitement meter in Los Angeles isn't peaking, but it's moving.

ESPN recently launched a site dedicated to L.A. sports.  The banner advertisement for the new site has Kobe Bryant, Manny Ramirez, Pete Carrol and Blake Griffin on it. 

ESPN understands.

The Clippers start the new year with hope like they have started every year prior.  This year, however, they have that plan.

I've enjoyed covering the Clippers for you in 2009 and am excited about what the balance of the season holds.  Some still giggle when I proclaim with great pride that I am the Featured Columnist for the Clippers.  It doesn't phase me anymore.  I know that covering the other team in Los Angeles is kinda like being a weather reporter in this great city.

Hey everyone its 75 and clear today.

Hello again, 75 and clear.

Yup, you guessed it 75 and clear.

Save for the occasional Ron Artest underwear interview, proclamation about past incidents, or trip down the stairs, that team is predictable.  The Clippers aren't.  Will they win against teams they should beat?  Maybe.  Will the lose to teams that should beat them?  Possible.

Their unpredictability makes them perplexing, but a joy to follow and write about.

Thanks to all of you who read my thoughts on the only basketball team in Los Angeles that matters in 2009.  Next year promises to be exciting with a Griffin sighting guaranteed, and a LeBron James sighting very possible. 

Stay tuned.


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