When a defining era of a basketball organisation comes to an end, it is important not to mourn the loss of what once was, but rather to celebrate the high-flying, turbulent whirlwind of chaotic entertainment it provided.
It was reported on Wednesday afternoon that elite point guard Chris Paul would join James Harden and the Houston Rockets in exchange for a package that has changed more times than I can count.
So (take a breath): Beverley, Williams, Dekker, Harrell, Kelly, Liggins, Quarterman & 2018 first (small protection) to Clippers for CP3.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 28, 2017
This may not be the only major announcement of the summer for the organisation, who have recently seen Blake Griffin opt out of his contract ahead of the upcoming free-agency, leaving only 28-year-old DeAndre Jordan remaining from the team’s core.
After decades of loitering in the doldrums of the NBA, the Clippers went from league laughing stock to the must-see show in town in 2011, after trading Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a first-round draft pick for Paul. The now 9-time NBA All-Star joined forces with a young, athletic forward in Griffin and an explosive giant in DeAndre. With Paul’s arrival, the team found a leader to maximise the potential of their young core and to thrill the masses with their brand of dynamic basketball.
Griffin, with the help of rapper and part-time Kardashian Tyga, soon christened the movement as ‘Lob City’.
In case you’re wondering if you heard it right, yes, that astonishing line IS ‘I need the ring pronto, shout out Vinny Del Negro’.
Like it or not, Lob City has been the most eventful age of the Clippers so far. During this period, they became a more relevant basketball team than their pesky neighbours, shed their bigoted owner, were purchased for 2 billion dollars and made it to the playoffs on a yearly basis. They even took over the walls of Hotel Figueroa in LA Live, a spot mostly saved for blockbuster movies or, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Although their time together was a tangle of controversy, underwhelming postseason runs and perpetual speculation, there have been some significantly positive moments for us to cherish as sports fans. To honour the legacy of the Griffin, Paul and Jordan combination, let’s remember some special plays from the ceasing era.
Griffin dunks over Kendrick Perkins
On January 30th in 2012, the Clippers played host to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Staples Center. During a PHYSICAL GAME, Griffin rushed to the high post to set a pick for Chris Paul, who perfectly executed a bounce pass to his rolling teammate. What happened next was nothing short of barbaric.
Griffin slams over Pau Gasol twice in one game
A couple of months later, Griffin made an example of the legendary Spanish big man during the battle of L.A. After Randy Foye missed a wide-open three, Griffin proceeded to rise for a ridiculous two-handed put back jam over the back of Gasol.
Later in the game, the former Oklahoma Sooner drove baseline in order to further disrespect the future Hall Of Famer with a one handed stuff. Griffin followed it up with a stare-down that did not please the Lakers players, not one bit.
Chris Paul’s wizardry vs Utah
When he wasn’t controlling pace of the offence, the ‘Point God’ was showcasing his bag of tricks on the fast break. In a regular season game against the Jazz, CP3 faked a through-the-legs pass to the trailing Griffin, only to take it to the hole himself. Incredible showmanship, I’m sure we can all agree.
DeAndre alters Brandon Knight’s career forever
Brandon Knight has put up respectable numbers throughout his career and continues to contribute to a young, upcoming Phoenix Suns team, yet according to Twitter, his career ended on the 10th March 2013. The continuously meme-inspiring dunk that took place on that night is something to behold. DeAndre caught a lob pass from Paul and completely obliterated the rim, leaving poor, helpless Knight on the deck to temporarily contemplate his next career options.
Here’s wrestling legend Jim Ross’s take on the jam:
THIS hilarious mix-up
Just watch CP3 on the replay..
That time DeAndre Jordan was held hostage
When Jordan considered signing for his hometown Houston Rockets in the 2015 free agency, his Clippers teammates held him captive in his own home, in a sequence of events that could easily have been lifted from an emoji-laden comedy blockbuster that I probably wouldn’t see but would check out if it became available on Netflix.
Several Clippers tweeted to reveal their mode of transport to Jordan’s household, in mockery of a helplessly hopeful Chandler Parsons. The majority of them used the standard emojis provided by modern smartphones, but seasoned veteran Paul Pierce hilariously tweeted a JPEG image of a rocket, perhaps suggesting he’s yet to upgrade his handset.
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 8, 2015
In hindsight, the way it all played out is now riddled with irony, with DJ being left behind by his teammates, lonely in a desolate town, previously known as Lob City.
Of course, it wasn’t always positive during this era; there were some extremely difficult obstacles to overcome. From the outing of their tyrant owner, Donald Sterling as a deplorable racist, to an internal fist fight between a star player and the team’s equipment manager, the organisation has been tested.
A big issue for Lob City, in terms of the public perception of the team, was whining. From early on in Griffin’s career, he reportedly conjured a severe dislike and resentment from opposing players, league wide. Some believe this was due to his style of play, while others cite a supposed sense of entitlement on Blake’s part.
Negativity towards the team intensified as time went on. President/Head Coach Doc Rivers gained a reputation for persistently complaining and Chris Paul’s pit bull demeanour got under the league’s skin. No longer were they the darlings of the casual NBA fan, as Lob City began to lose its shine.
Above all, the primary reason that Lob City has come to an end may be the annual underachieving. This group of All-Stars have never managed to take the team to the Western Conference Finals. Sure, some of that can be attributed to health, but the team eventually ran out of excuses. With the Golden State juggernaut in full effect, the franchise faced a choice of blowing up the core or fading further away from contention. A wise move from Rivers, newly hired Jerry West and the franchise’s front office, to avoid the treadmill of mediocrity.
So, as we continue to enjoy the high-paced rollercoaster that is the NBA offseason, spare a thought for the frustrated Clippers fan base and those that purchased over-the-top Lob City branded merchandise. Guys, you will always have the exhilarating, rim-abusing, referee-bothering memories of the Clippers big three.
Lob City Clips, Lob Lob City Clips.