During the off-season Los Angeles Clippers’ fans have seen a lot of changes with their team.
The depth of the Clips has been lengthened with the signings of Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford, and the Lamar Odom trade. Ronny Turiaf takes the Reggie Evans role and Ryan Hollins is a solid shot blocker to have come off the bench. LA now has a mix of veterans and youth, instead of the young inexperienced roster the Clippers had last season.
Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe (both suffered season ending injuries early on in the 2011-12 season) are healthy, coach Vinny Del Negro — whether you love him or hate him — seems prime to get a contract extension, star forward Blake Griffin was signed to an extension of his own and a few positions in the office brass have been realigned.
With all this mentioned, the biggest change from last year to this year wasn’t noticed until Friday’s media day — confidence.
Last season the Clippers were definitely an improved team after acquiring Chris Paul and were named a lock to make the playoffs before an official NBA game was even played. Griffin was coming into his second season after a Rookie of the Year Award winning campaign, Billups was added to add leadership and a lot was thought of DeAndre Jordan on the defensive end.
Still, no one thought they were world beaters, including themselves. The Clips were a competitive team but deep down, they knew they couldn’t contend with the elite Western Conference teams including the 50-16 San Antonio Spurs who swept LA in the semifinals of the playoffs.
At this year’s media day, the Clippers showed the confidence, the swag and a determined look of a champion. Rocky would be proud to see the Clippers’ “Eye of the Tiger”.
Los Angeles president Andy Roeser summed it up like this in an interview published on HoopsWorld.
“I really like our team this season. I don’t see any limit to what we can accomplish as a team. I think the additions (of) Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill help us at all the positions. I think we come back with a great mix of veterans, young players, experience and savvy and a lot of depth at every position. I can’t wait to see us play.”
Instead of thinking they are simply a competitive team, the Clippers think they can honestly contend with any squad in the league and now view themselves as elite.
I don’t know about any other supporter of the Clippers, but I love the confidence and their heart of a champion demeanor. Who doesn’t want their team to think they can beat tough opponents, especially when it actually has the talent to do so?
Sure, a championship isn’t won without playing a game or by front office decisions that sound good in theory, but a new found determination has never hurt anyone before.
Kobe Bryant wouldn’t have willed the Los Angeles Lakers to championships in 2009 and 2010 — if he didn’t think the team could win. The same thing can be said about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. I scoffed at the celebration those two and Chris Bosh had after they all signed contracts in the summer of 2010, but they backed it up by going to the NBA Finals in 2011 and then winning the NBA Championship in 2012.
The Clippers need to be focused because it will be a rocky road; winning in the NBA isn’t easy.
However, if they can stay healthy and find ways to get the best out of everyone on the roster, there is no reason the Clippers couldn’t be crowned instead of King James, Bryant or Kevin Durant.