This Might Finally Be The Time To Believe In The Clippers

11.21.16 2 weeks ago

Getty Image

The L.A. Clippers’ scores on the Zenger-Folkman Likability Index, a set of factors and behaviors that spit out how affable you are, would probably fall somewhere along the “needs significant improvement” part of the spectrum. It’s a shame, really, because individually, they all seem like nice enough dudes with a good sense of humor.

DeAndre Jordan first stole our hearts when he made that video of himself crop-dusting unsuspecting bystanders at Venice Beach, and he and Chris Paul are both charming and hilarious in those State Farm commercials. Blake Griffin and his wry wit have likewise won us over with his various TV appearances over the years.

Yet collectively, when they are on the basketball court competing against other teams, they transform into a group of whining, petulant children, and their inability to get past the second round of the playoffs has earned them the label of chronic underachievers.

Last year was a particularly tough stretch for their public image. Griffin missed a significant portion of the season after breaking his hand during a fight with friend/equipment manager Matias Testi, and the team’s surprising success in the wake of that disaster had much of the basketball world wondering whether they’d simply be better off without him.

But unlike the year prior, when they blew a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in the West semifinals, last season’s first-round playoff exit was utterly out of their control. Both Paul and Griffin suffered series-altering injuries in the same game, clearing a path for the scrappy Blazers’ unlikely second-round berth. Yet even then, the rest of the team – especially Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford – stepped up and showed tremendous resilience against Portland in those last two games.

That energy has apparently spilled over into the new season. At 12-2, the Clippers are off to their best start in franchise history and currently sit atop the Western Conference standings. Before falling to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, they were riding a seven-game win-streak, which included a huge blowout over the aforementioned Blazers, a win in San Antonio against the Spurs, and a victory over the Thunder to avenge their only loss of the season up to that point.