The Clippers Slander Has Been Harsh, Brutal, and Completely Warranted
Karma (especially coming from the basketball gods) will forever remain undefeated
The Los Angeles Clippers’ season was not supposed to end this early. They were supposed to be world champions or at the very least, Western Conference champions. Go back to any point in either the offseason, regular season, or even the playoffs, and almost every single NBA talking head and analyst had the Clippers making a deep playoff run that would most likely end up with them finally winning their first championship.
Seemingly everything was aligned for them to win this season. They supposedly had the roster to compete and a compelling narrative going for them as well. The team added the reigning Finals MVP and proven playoff performer, Kawhi Leonard and multiple-time All-Star Paul George on top of an already competitive and cohesive team that had Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Patrick Beverley. The Clippers became a team with star power, depth, talent, and significant production on both the offensive and defensive end.
So, what happened? Why didn’t they end up winning it all when it seemed like they were destined for it? Well, the short answer is this: karma happened. And just like how it is in real life, karma is truly undefeated, especially if it’s karma generated by angering the basketball gods.
For a more detailed answer though, it pretty much stems from the fact that the Clippers players were the biggest believers of their own hype. Don’t get me wrong, self-confidence is important and is vital for a championship-caliber team. The infuriating thing with the Clippers, though, was that they were acting like winners when they haven’t even won anything as a collective.
It all started during the offseason when Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Paul George got hyped up with the prospect of being a legitimate contender. The hype even swelled up during the regular season when the Clippers beat the Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, convincingly in their Opening Day and Christmas Day games when all eyes were tuned in.
Essentially, they coasted through the regular season in an effort to preserve their players (especially Kawhi and his needed load management) because they were expecting to have a deep playoff run. The Clippers went all-out against great teams but struggled to give much of an effort against weaker teams. Their mindset was, pretty much, “once we get to the playoffs, we can easily flip the switch where we can beat anyone.”
The problem with this mindset is that the Clippers have not earned any switch to flip because they haven’t won anything yet. Yeah, sure, Kawhi probably has the talent to turn it on when he wants to but the team, as a whole, doesn’t have that championship DNA that they think they have. They had to prove themselves in the playoffs first before thinking they were elite in any way.
It would have been a lot easier for them if they just emulated their star player and let their game do the talking when the NBA season resumed in the Orlando bubble, but this Clippers team was loud and obnoxious and were not shy about it.
Their first major offense against the basketball gods was when Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris, and Lou Williams mocked Portland’s Damian Lillard after he had missed both his free throws which eventually gave the Clippers the game. Beverley hit Dame with both the Dame Time taunt and the wave goodbye as the Clippers won and the beef escalated online after the game.
Let’s face it, Patrick Beverley talks a lot of trash for a guy who is an overrated defender that averages just 9.0 points per game but this has been his M.O. his whole career, to talk trash and pester opponents and to be fair, he does a pretty good job. What was a bit surprising is Paul George chiming in with jabs against Lillard when he has absolutely zero right to talk against Lillard who knocked down the series winner in Paul George’s face last year.
That beef was just the beginning of the Clippers’ shenanigans in the bubble, and it continued throughout their first round match-up against the #7 Dallas Mavericks. Montrezl Harrell had a jab at Dallas star, Luka Doncic, and called him a “white boy” like it was an insult. Then a few games later, while Luka was playing with an injured ankle for pretty much the whole series, Marcus Morris intentionally stepped on Luka’s foot and denied his actions being intentional when it was pretty obvious that it was. He even talked trash in response to Luka commenting on his “suspiciously” dirty play.
Oh, and they were also clowning Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was never known to be a good shooter. I get that NBA players are insanely competitive but the Clippers were so close to stepping over the line of disrespect at times and it would soon come to bite them. Nevertheless, they did beat the Mavs in six games, albeit not in the most convincing fashion.
They would then face the Denver Nuggets in the second round. The Clippers were heavy favorites heading into the series not just because of their supposed talent but also because the Nuggets might have been a little too worn out after they had to overcome a 3–1 series deficit against the Jazz in the first round.
The Nuggets eventually faced another 3–1 series deficit to the Clippers and it seemed only a matter of time for the Clippers to finally punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. Also, interestingly enough, there weren’t any significant Clipper antics up to this point.
However, the cracks started to reveal itself when the Clippers failed to close out the series in Games 5 and 6 even though they were up by double digits in the third quarter during both those games. Then, before Game 7, Paul George said that the Clippers were “still in the driver’s seat” which was a really odd thing to say considering the Nuggets had all the momentum in the world after surviving two more games and forcing a Game 7.
Then when Game 7 arrived, the Clippers looked like they already packed their luggage. Again, they were up double digits in this game and gave it away in the second half. The two bench “stars” of the Clippers, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams were basically rendered useless during the entirety of this series and their two superstars, Kawhi Leonard and “Playoff P” Paul George couldn’t buy a bucket and both scored zero points total in the fourth quarter. Leonard and George ended the game with a grand total of 24 points between the both of them.
Ultimately, the Clippers committed the second biggest choke job in NBA history and lost 104–89 to the Nuggets in Game 7 and when the buzzer sounded the memes were off and aplenty. Honestly though, considering all the hype they, themselves bought into this year, can you blame anyone at this point?
Just this season alone, they:
- Brought in Kawhi Leonard after being the most demanding free agent signing in a long while
- Mortgaged their future by giving up all their draft picks for “Playoff P” Paul George who has proven to wither on the big stage
- Tried to push the narrative of being “blue-collar underdogs” even though they have the richest owner in the league
- Gave Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams all the leeway to talk trash and disrespect opponents even though this Clipper team has won absolutely nothing
- Tried to intentionally injure the most promising young superstar in the league
- Had three chances to go to the Western Conference Finals but blew every single chance.
The Clippers’ excuses after the Game 7 loss were the perfect cherries on top of their comical collapse. There were reports immediately after the game that the Clippers ‘felt fatigued’ which was an absolutely insane excuse considering the load management they were doing the whole season and that the team that just beat them just came off their own seven game series in the first round.
Paul George’s post-loss comments didn’t do them any favors as well when he said “Internally, we’ve always felt this isn’t a championship or bust year for us. We didn’t have enough time together.” He contradicts himself just less than three months ago when he said, “Immediately, we expected to come and win it all”. Also, the Clippers have no right using the excuse of not having enough time together as a team when the Lakers are in the exact same situation they are in, and they didn’t have many problems making it to the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers were really looking forward to the Battle of LA in the Conference Finals but the fact that they couldn’t make it past the second round shows that even with all their fancy acquisitions and star players, this Clippers team is exactly like every Clipper team that came before them: a disappointment.
They tested the basketball gods far too many times, and they have no one else to blame but themselves. The Clippers have no choice but to take on this slander from the whole basketball world so that hopefully, they won’t make the same mistake of believing their own hype and completely relying on it again.