Season openers in the Association are a time to welcome back the fans, for one team a chance to get your rings and for Clipper teams of the past it was a time to play another one of 82. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing special, nothing to particularly dramatic.
These Clippers have a full fledged rivalry. Rudy Gay said he didn't like the Clippers and Zack Randolph acted like it. Sure, this was game one, but make no mistake, the Memphis Grizzlies came into Staples with a chip on their shoulder. This was not "just another game"; this was a statement and the Clippers made it.
This was game eight of last seasons playoff series which ended exactly like game seven did.
The Clippers suited up only 10 with Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups and Trey Thompkins all (with the exception of the suspended Barnes) on the bench but looking good in their Men In Black gear. The teams impressive depth was needed and on display in this "must win" game one.
I know its odd to label a game in October a "must win", but these are the Clippers. A franchise with as lousy a history as possible. A franchise with naysayers ready, willing and very able to point fingers and cart out their "Same Ole Clippers" sentiment at the hint of any failure. With the Lakers reeling, the Grizzlies foaming at the mouth and many fans ready for this team to revert to form, a loss in game one would have been a huge disappointment.
Instead the win on Halloween was monstrous!
So, what's the teams reward for taking this "must win" game? Well, another one of course.
On tap are the 0-2 Lakers on Friday. Think about whats at stake for this team so early in the season. Beyond a chance to go 2-0 they can take their highly touted "roommates" to 0-3. With so much of LA blacked out from watching the Lakers, this is a chance to steal a few fans, to take the "New Showtime" to the franchise that originated it and to increase their early lead in the Pacific Division.
Sure, its early. Sure, a loss to the Lakers on Friday wouldn't necessarily preclude any of the above from happening. Sure, its a long season - a marathon not a sprint. But then again, these Clippers have a lot of pent up frustration thanks to decades of disappointment. Their time is now. They know it, the Grizzlies know it, the Association knows it and now its time for the Lakers to understand the plain and simple truth.
There is a new basketball king in Los Angeles.