End of an era
With the trade of Blake Griffin yesterday the Clippers ended the most successful era in the history of the franchise. In 2009 the Clippers won the lottery and picked the best player in the draft Blake Griffin. In typical Clipper fashion, Blake would fracture his kneecap in the preseason and miss the entire 2009/2010 season. It felt like Danny Manning all over again but this time the prodigy came back as healthy and athletic as before and changed the history of the franchise.
He didn’t do it by himself. It took the appearance of Chris Paul in 2011/2012 and the emergence of Deandre Jordan to solidify the Clippers as a perennial postseason team. From 2011/2012 until 2016/2017 the Clippers won over fifty games every year. They had some memorable postseasons but none that got them into the Western finals. They were the last Western team to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2014 postseason. Injuries always seemed to rise up at the wrong time leaving either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin unable to perform at their peak during the postseason. I don’t think we’ll ever know how good the best Clipper teams were because we never got to see them healthy for an extended postseason run.
I’m going to miss Blake Griffin but he was never my favorite Clipper. I enjoyed his immense athleticism, his work ethic, and his sense of humor in his Kia ads. I didn’t enjoy his constant whining but I have to say having watched him play just about every game since he showed up, he sure seemed to be a punching bag for the league so while the whining was annoying, it was understandable. He was a formidable scoring option and in the beginning, consistently gave us plays we’d never seen before. Injuries take a toll and since Blake missed substantial time every season, you could see the result on the floor. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to notice that he will be an old basketball player when he hits 30.
Blake Griffin should have owned this town, but as Chris Paul found out at Dodger Stadium his first year, this is not a Clipper town. It doesn’t matter that they sold out for five years in a row, the pecking order is still Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, … Clippers. Six years of winning didn’t make a dent in the sports psyche of Los Angeles. The only thing that would have changed the landscape would have been an improbable World Championship. It didn’t happen and Blake can now take his game to Detroit.
As Blake heads to Detroit he’ll do so as the all-time Los Angeles Clipper points leader. I’ll probably be dead and he’ll still be the all-time LAC points leader.
Crit Tota Tota Tota Tota Tota Tota Player PTS G MP TRB AST STL BLK Blake Griffin 10863 504 17706 4686 2133 484 277 Elton Brand 9336 459 17595 4710 1242 438 1039 Corey Maggette 8835 512 15780 2673 1229 421 93 Chris Paul 7674 409 13885 1733 4023 902 54 Danny Manning 7120 373 12676 2399 1132 548 406 DeAndre Jordan 6675 717 20033 7468 493 429 1248 Loy Vaught 6614 558 15671 4471 607 468 211 Ken Norman 6432 439 13584 2916 964 403 346 Ron Harper 5853 304 11458 1678 1463 606 266 Chris Kaman 5813 493 14661 4109 635 238 707 Jamal Crawford 5675 370 10310 684 971 310 65 Benoit Benjamin 5405 406 12724 3538 776 316 1117 Eric Piatkowski 5269 616 12655 1520 674 353 106
In a few days, we will know what the Logo is planning for the team. What will they get for Deandre Jordan and Lou Williams? What other pieces will they sell? What do they get back?
The Clippers haven’t been relevant in the draft since the winning began in 2011 starting with the ill-fated traded of our number one pick to the Cavaliers that turned into Kyle Irving. This year we already have two number one picks. They could both end up being Lottery picks or not. Both the Pistons and Clippers could still make the postseason.
I have faith that the Logo did the right thing. I loved the trade of Chris Paul. The last thing I wanted was to be paying an old point guard max money. I was a little shocked at the return they got for a player who can walk at the end of the year in Houston. Patrick Beverly was supposed to be the centerpiece but Lou Williams has been outstanding. I understand them trading Blake. Even as he improved his outside shot so that he is a credible option at the three, his defense will continue to erode as he ages, and it is not very good now.
The Logo is giving Clipper fans a new future, but Clipper fans can remember the Blake Griffin era and smile because he gave us many great individual basketball moments.