A few short weeks ago, with the Clippers season right around the corner, I was excited. Honestly, I was more than excited. Long a member of Club Optimism, my off-season ramblings and confidence in the clippers caused a friend and fellow citizen to point out that I was sounding like a homer. He was right, but I didn't care. This was going to be a good year.The preseason arrived and while the Clippers were not winning games, my confidence was unshaken. Baron Davis seemed healthy and played well, at least defensively and as a distributor, and that jumper was gonna come around. Chris Kaman was, to borrow a phrase from Citizen KamanHomie "eating fools." EJ looked just fine, and the only problem with Blake Griffin was trying to find him a suitable nickname (sorry fellow citizens, we have all failed miserably in this department...altered beast, really?). Sure we were losing games, but coach VDN was giving burn to Cook, Aminu, Bledsoe, and DJ. These guys were never going to be able to contribute in the regular season. Our starters were going to have to suck it up and play more minutes, but we were going to be fine...
The Clippers had a disappointing first loss at home against the Blazers, for whom I have an irrational hatred. I was upset because we were better that that. Baron Davis and Chris Kaman gave us nothing, and we were still in the game. Things were going to turn around...but turn around they did not. The Clippers followed up that loss with two of the most embarrassing performances I have ever witnessed against the the Warriors and Mavericks. If my club optimism membership card wasn't imaginary, I definitely would have shredded it. This team was embarrassing. No defensive effort, cant shoot, poor ball movement. It was everything I can't stand in a basketball team. Oh and now the revelation that Baron Davis is hurt. The Spurs were going to demolish us. This season which I had been waiting for all off-season looked to be finished after all of 3 games.
But then something happened. In fact it started during the Dallas game, but I dismissed it as a fluke. DJ started looking like he may actually know what hes doing this season, and that Bledsoe kid is kind of a gamer. Even Aminu is looking like he may shape into a legitimate 3 in this league. The team is playing harder, feeding off the energy of our third string pg. We are 1-2 since that Dallas game, and the schedule isn't getting any easier, but the effort is there. It's frustrating to watch a team play and know that they have to play a perfect game to win, but I was suddenly glad I hadn't shredded my Club Optimism membership card. I am enjoying watching the Clippers play again, even in the games they lose. Here I am turning back into a homer, wanting to see our underdog group of youngsters (home grown Clipper draft picks) work hard, and applaud them even when they fall short.
So, as Lebron James might ask, what should we do? Should we be happy with the direction the team is headed and be hopeful that in 2 years we will have a nice starting 5? The homer in all of us says yes, because we love our guys, the guys we drafted and are watching every night, but its the wrong choice. Watching Melo play last night, we didn't see some selfish superstar playing for himself, trying to earn a contract and pad stats. We saw one of the most gifted offensive players this league has ever seen play within a system, distribute the ball and get teammates involved, understand what the defense was giving and proceed to break it down. Then at the end of the game, he iced the victory. See, when you have Carmelo Anthony you don't have to be perfect every night. He can carry the load when your center can't find the bucket, or when your starting pg is injured, or as was the case for the Nuggets last night, when your entire front court is gone and Shelden WIlliams is your starting center. He is exactly what the Clippers need, and the Clippers have to make a run at him, even if it means parting with a sentimental favorite, or one of our "core young guys." Clipper fans are too accustomed to accepting a losing season as part of a youth movement, and that next season will be better. Carmelo would make us better right now. Club Optimism is a great thing, and I plan on remaining a member, but I refuse to to just keep looking toward next season, hoping things will turn around. This team needs to make a move.
Hey, maybe we will start making our free throws, Baron Davis will bounce back and have a career year, Chris Kaman will get to 4.0 status and drop 30 a few times this season, and Gomes will turn into the spot up shooter we so desperately need him to be. Maybe. If not, there's always next season.