Flashback five years ago in Los Angeles basketball history: Around this time, the battle of Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol vs. Carmelo Anthony & Chauncey Billups was in full swing. Meanwhile, the Clippers (stacked with Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby and Al Thornton) faded further into obscurity with a 19-63 season record, which earned them a playoffs DNQ.
Now zip back to the present: It is the coach-less Lakers who are teetering at a point of uncertainty with only four players signed to play next season. And while I’d like to say that the Clippers have fully redeemed themselves, it’d be a lie. The Clippers tried really hard. Ultimately, a few blunders, a couple whistles and one huge front office controversy buried them.
David Parsons declared that the Clippers could become “America’s team,” yet the squad couldn’t rise to the challenge. Instead, again they stumbled, and the team has never advanced past the second round of the postseason.
Tonight, for Angelenos, all eyes are on ping pong balls. The Clippers failure to succeed (sadly) surprised no one, but the Lakers’ season fumble was viewed as completely unacceptable. The NBA draft is the only hope left — a shot at redemption. It could determine which Lakers re-sign, and which coaches the team will begin courting.
On the other hand, the Clippers’ troubles will not recede until the Sterling debacle dissipates. Head Coach Doc Rivers sounded confident that he’ll return last season following the team’s heartbreaking loss in Game 7 to OKC. But would he still stay if the Sterling family kept its grip on the franchise?
Considering it’s mid-May, Los Angeles basketball is in unfamiliar territory. The Lakers need a stroke of luck and the Clippers need a miracle.