The Tables Have Turned in Los Angeles

It’s been 36 years in the making, but this year just
might be the year that wearing a Clippers jersey in
public might not be as embarassing as it once was.

The Clippers have already had their best start ever
at 9-2 and have beaten some quality teams in Golden
State and Minnesota. Although three of those nine
wins came against unimpressive Atlanta and Toronto
teams, the Clippers seem to have something going for
them this season.

Clipper veterans Elton Brand and Corey Maggette
have always been solid players and have always had a
carousel of quality teammates come and go throughout
the years in Andre Miller, Lamar Odom, Quentin
Richardson, Marko Jaric, etc.
Despite these talented individual players, the Clippers
have never succeeded as a team. Since moving to Los
Angeles from San Diego in 1984,
the Clippers carry a 572-1,118
record. Overall, they are mere
1,017-1,821.

The Clippers only winning
season in Los Angeles happened in
the 1991-92 season finishing 45-37,
as they were led by Danny Manning
and Ron Harper.
They havent made the playoffs
since 1997. In their 35 seasons of
existence, the Clippers have only
made the playoffs six times, and
won their only post-season series in
1976 when they were known as the
Buffalo Braves.

Not only have they been
terrible all these years, but theyve
been living under the shadow of the
rather successful Los Angeles
Lakers.

However, there’s something in
the L.A. air this season. The
standings look a little weird. The
Clippers are up on top of the
Pacific Division, while the Lakers
have sunk all the way to the bottom
with a sub-.500 record.
The Lakers are in the midst of a rebuilding process
and look to be heading down the same path they did last
season. With injuries to Devean George, Kwame Brown,
and Slava Medvedenko, the Lakers already-thin bench is
stretched out even thinner.

The Lakers plans of using guard Aaron McKie as a
Brian Shaw/Ron Harper-type of player to run the triangle
offense have backfired, as he is averaging just seven
minutes per game.
Besides the 34 points per game that Kobe Bryant is
throwing up, nobody in a Lakers uniform has really
stepped up to the plate as a consistant, double-digit
scoring second option.

Lamar Odom was supposed to be Kobe Bryant’s
scoring sidekick, but his shooting percentage and points
per game are down this season as he has only been
shooting a mere 40-percent while averaging just 14 points
per game.
Prior to the season, Phil Jackson made it clear that the
Lakers goal was solely to make it to the post-season. No
rings, no parades; just a post-season appearance.
If the first 12 games of the season are any indication
of things to come, then Jackson might want to reconsider
and change that goal to just finishing with a win column
without the word teen in it.

Meanwhile, the Clippers off-season decisions this
summer are looking to pay off. First, they traded away
Marko Jaric in exchange for veteran point guard Sam
Cassell and the leadership that he
brings to the court.
Cassell has flourished this
season with averages of 16 points,
seven assists and five rebounds per
game, as opposed to the quiet 13
points, five assists and three
rebounds he had in an
injury-marred season last year.

Next on their to-do list was to
acquire seventh-year sharp shooter
Cuttino Mobley via free agency to
add to the veteranship of
their backcourt.
So far, Mobley has brought 16
points, five rebounds, and 1.5
3-pointers per game to the court.
Brand is currently one of the
premier power forwards in the league
with averages of 23 points, 10
rebounds, and three blocks. And
Maggette is doing his thing, averaging
21 points per game.

So what exactly will become of the
two Los Angeles teams this season?
Will Lamar Odom step up as a
consistant second scoring option? Will
Phil Jackson work his coaching magic
and pull his team back into the playoff
picture? Will the Clippers look down at their jerseys and
realize that they are just the Los Angeles Clippers and
slowly drift back to the bottom of the standings where they
came from?

Yes.