When the Clippers landed both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019, they instantly become one of the top two or three contenders in the NBA. In many people’s estimation — including and especially their own — they were the runaway favorites to win the title last season.
As we are all aware — and as the Lakers are fond of reminding us — the Clippers suffered a spectacular meltdown in the second round, blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets and sending their organization into something of a tailspin this offseason as they scrambled to figure out what went wrong and get back on track.
It’s hard to isolate one specific cause, but in general, the Clippers never recaptured the chemistry they’d developed the previous season, despite all their declarations that they were the team to beat in the West. LeBron, in particular, seems to believe that all the trash talk eventually caught up with them when it came time to own it.
Here’s what he said on the Road Trippin podcast.
“I couldn’t believe it. To this day, I still can’t believe it,” LeBron says in the video. “Obviously, the better team won. That’s what happened. But still, because all the sh*t-talking that they were doing all year – and exclude Paul and exclude Kawhi. Even exclude Trez. Obviously, we know who the sh*t-talkers was. And put themselves in a position to get what they been talking sh*t about all year, and I just couldn’t fathom the part or come to the realization that that they did not seek that opportunity when it was right there.”
LeBron pretty clearly appears to be alluding to Patrick Beverley, who had a lot to say all season long and throughout the Bubble, right up until things started going South.
Even though we didn’t get to see the L.A. rivalry play itself in Orlando, there’s no doubt that there will be plenty of intrigue between them throughout next season as the Lakers look to defend their crown and the Clippers try to prove that what happened in the playoffs was somehow an aberration.