Lakers / Clippers Debate…if we can even call it that
I’m no Laker apologist. They suck this season. Can Kobe will them to a 6 or 7 seed and put up a respectable fight in the playoffs? Shame on you if you doubt that thought for even a second. Kobe has willed a lesser team co-starring Kwame Brown to the playoffs and wasn’t having nearly as efficient of a season that year. I could go on an hour long rant about how this year’s teams struggles have more to do with D’antoni’s lack of coaching ability, Dwight not being healthy, and the NBA colluding against the Lakers and vetoing the Chris Paul trade, but I’m not here to make excuses for grown men underachieving.
Also let it be clear that I harbor no ill will towards the clippers. I respect Chris Paul and I think Jamal Crawford is THE MOST exiting player in the league this year. That’s no disrespect to Lebron and his greatness but Jamal Crawford is must-see T.V. Crawford has been in the league 12 years and while I knew what he was capable of, his visibility in L.A. greatly increased and well… just watch THIS, THIS, AND because Shuttlesworth is a bitch THIS .
BUT this Lakers vs Clippers thing has gotten completely out of hand. All of this talk about a changing of the guard and the clippers rising up from their status as the bastard children of Staples Center is premature. People who make the argument that the Clippers are actually better than the Lakers are conveniently forgetting a few things that plague the Clippers now and possibly until Tokowitz (more on him later) meets his demise:
1- Vinny Del Negro is their head coach. At first glance you’d probably say, “Hey what are you talking about? He’s a great coach! He just won coach of the month and the Clippers just finished a ridiculous winning streak that included going undefeated the entire month of December!” Well yes but upon further examination you’ll discover that Vinny is a 16 year old driving a Porsche downhill. He has the luxury of having the best floor general since Magic Johnson at his disposal and that alone covers up half of the mistakes Vinny makes. And let’s not EVER, ever, ever, ever forget that he coached the 2009-2010 Bulls to a 41-41 record. Why is that significant you ask? Well because the following year the Bulls hired Tom Thibodeau and he led the team to a 62-20 record (yes I am aware that the roster’s weren’t identical but as far as changes go we’re really talking about swapping Ben Gordon and John Salmon’s 20 and 18 points per game respectively for Boozer’s 17 points and 9 rebounds and Kyle Corver’s 41% from 3pt. Derrick Rose’s ppg increased from 20 to 25 in that span and his minutes per game only increased from 36 to 37…suggesting yes that Rose grew as a player in his first 2-3 years and with Gordon gone he was free to take more offensive responsibility, but also that Thibs was able to get more out of the young star while playing him the same minutes than an inept Vinny did. And you can’t tell me that adding a terrible defender in Boozer accounts for the team becoming exponentially better defensively and +21 in the win column. You smell that? That’s Thibodeau doing what Vinny couldn’t).
The most glaring hole that you’re gonna see in Vinny’s lack of coaching accumen will come in mid April when he can’t figure out how to integrate Chauncey Billups into the Clipper lineup without completely losing quite possibly the most explosive young talent in the league, Eric Bledsoe. One of two things will happen here. Either Chauncey steals from the 20 min per game Bledsoe currently gets or he doesn’t. Real simple. And if Eric doesn’t get the playing time he deserves after proving to be invaluable in last year’s playoffs we’re looking at a ridiculously talented 20-something sulking on the bench in the middle of a playoff run with a coach driving a Porsche downhill without the assistance of tiptronic transmission. So if you’re keeping track that’s four starting caliber guards (Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups) that need to be squeezed into a shortened 8 man rotation for the playoffs. In other words all bad, Vincent.
2- Blake Griffin is still extremely limited offensively and the Clippers still lack the post game necessary for playoff success. Blake is essentially Shawn Kemp on an EBT card. He’s a great dunker posing as an All-Star power forward. Yes his mid range game improved, but it only went from non-existent to barely there. Last season in the San Antonio series Popovich was able to exploit this glaring deficiency in Griffin’s game and send the Clippers on vacation without too much of a fight. Deandre Jordan’s low post game improved a lot but if you’re relying on his limited moves on the block, well, Dave Chappelle said it best.
3- The famous Chris Paul Push-Off Move AKA the most blatant uncalled offensive foul since the Jordan push off or every Shaq move from 1992-2006. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Allow TrueHoop’s Beckley Mason to fill you in:
The Chris Paul Step Back/ Dribble Penetration create space move [Sometimes accompanied by an elaborate crossover to distract officals]:
A cousin of the far more prevalent step-back, Paul loves to set up his midrange jumper, usually off a ball screen, by faking to the middle of the court with his killer in-and-out dribble then bouncing sideways to the space just outside the elbow.
The “bounce sideways” part is the push off that’s never called and I’m willing to bet that it will get called in the playoffs (hopefully emphatically by Joey Crawford) and that will play a major part in the Clipper’s undoing. As a matter of fact Paul pulled the move last night on the play that Dwight Howard fouled out on and it went completely ignored by the refs. For you visual learners here is a less pronounced example of Paul pulling the move last season on then-76er Lou Williams. It’s a bad angle but the official is usually viewing the play from a poor angle and that’s part of the reason CP3 gets away with it so much. Notice we can’t see Paul’s forearm from this angle but if you look at Lou Williams you can tell that space was created via force as opposed to his own momentum (and don’t try to tell me that he flopped). That’s a fucking offensive foul and Paul gets away with it about 90% of the time.
The Clippers will always be a Chris Paul offensive foul away from losing a huge game in the playoffs. #Fact
4- The Lakers have won 16 championships. And the Clippers are sitting at a paltry -16. Yea, I know, typical Laker fan argument. But are we dealing in facts? Of course we are, so deal with it! Are the Lakers gonna win one this season? Barring a blockbuster Pau Gasol trade or the Rapture probably not. But a couple of winning seasons for the clippers or even a championship or five for that matter will not change the fact that the Lakers are the greatest franchise in all of sports. The Mets have won a few World Series titles and nobody considers them to be better than the Yankees, so what’s different about this? Nothing. The Clippers are forever limited by…
5- Donald Tokowitz Sterling, Tok’ if you’re his prostitute (not clicking that link about how he consulted a whore on Clippers issues would be a crime against humanity) Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. This man actually deserves to be chained to the dirtiest floor in hell, marinating in his own feces, begging for mercy. He’s a known racist and a notorious cheapskate. On top of that he has also been known to intimidate law enforcement and use his billions to influence L.A. City officials to act in his favor. His deplorable character aside, it is generally accepted by the media and viewing public that as long as the Clippers are owned by this man, winning is not the ultimate goal. With that in mind you have to wonder what he will decide to do when Chris Paul comes to his desk asking for a Max contract this summer. Has there ever been a player more deserving of $20 million/ season? No. Did Blake Griffin just get a monster extension from the Clippers signaling that the Clippers history of not paying free agents is a thing of the past? Yes. Does this then mean that the Clippers are now dedicated to winning? Certainly not because if we have learned anything about Sterling it’s that the Clippers are his world and all of these NIGGAS are not getting paid salaries commiserate to their output on the floor- they get paid according to how Tokowitz is feeling that day. Ask Danny Manning or Elgin Baylor. Oh and let’s not forget that the Clippers have to figure out what to do with restricted Free Agent Eric Bledsoe in what appears to be a situation somewhat similar to what OKC went through with James Harden minus the whole “Small market crying poor in the face of revenue sharing and turning a profit the previous two seasons” thing AKA #PseudoNBAFiscalCliff.
The only way the Clippers can overcome the Tokowitz and fulfill their true potential is if Adam Silver (David Stern’s successor) and the NBA board of Governors forces Tok’ to sell the team this summer because Tok’ doesn’t operate the franchise with regard to “the best interests of the league”. Then Sergey Brin, Larry Page, or some venture capitalist from Palo Alto swoop in and drop a billion to purchase the bastard children of staples center. Chances of this happening? Never say never, so we’ll say extremely slim. Actually I want Nate Silver to look into this and come up with some real odds.
So I don’t want to hear this nonsense about how the Clippers are better than the Lakers. Are the Clippers contenders? Of course they are. So are the Spurs and they’re not winning the title either. The Clippers are temporarily ahead of the Lakers in the standings and have yet to win anything of note. Longer than you or I have watched, teams have always been measured by titles, just ask your dad.
It’s gonna take a lot more than one game or one year to erase or surpass the Purple and Gold. Dunks and lobs are nice, but rings speak louder than regular season wins and early playoff exits. We have 16 rings, Miami 2 (Lebron 1), and the Clippers…