Apr 29, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) celebrates with teammates after the victory against the Memphis Grizzlies in game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedEx Forum. The Clippers won 99-98. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
As a long suffering Clipper fan, the lows are always lower, and the highs can be pretty damn high. You might even say "the joy is not the same without the pain." That said, hopefully we're only seeing the start of this team's great potential.
What a complete range of emotions that flooded Clipper Nation last night, from familiar and crushing humiliation at the worst possible time, to restoring dignity, and then finally ending in improbable elation. It's only one win, but it may have been the biggest win any of us have experienced in our time following this team, and it's one that brings back tons of memories of past players and moments, and a win that couldn't be bigger for this current Clipper team who we hope to keep intact well into the future.
For the Clippers franchise itself, Neil Olshey came right out and said from the beginning of the season that "all the chips are on the table", and meanwhile long-held Clipper perceptions i.e., "The Curse", "It's the Clippers" have been challenged like never before, and while the new Clippers re-brand has all the foundations of success, one would expect that the vast majority of the basketball universe couldn't hardly wait for the opportunity to get back to their routine of knocking the Clippers down a peg, with something like "the players may have changed, but the results remain the same".
Last night's win reminded me of so many of former Clipper players who tried to shake all the Clipper stereotypes but ultimately failed in advancing the franchise up to respectability. The foundation that Dunleavy, Cassell, and Brand laid in 05-06 was important, but somehow was quickly forgotten after just one good post-season run. The pick that landed Griffin restored hope, and I'd be lying if I didn't sometimes wonder if this current Clipper team, especially now after landing Chris Paul could be the franchise's last chance at digging itself out of the decade's long whole it's dug itself.
To carry this out, and finish what this new group of Clippers have started, no doubt they'll need some time. Griffin and CP3 will need to be re-signed, so the worst thing that could've happened was a first round knockout, and with the new Clipper stars losing heart, and looking elsewhere. While last night's win didn't guarantee a first round victory over Memphis, it gave the team the boost that it needed, after losing a series of games on the road to end the season, squandering home court advantage, a blowout loss in game 1 would've put this group behind it. And for a team with so many heart-breaking memories, it was time to start creating something lasting on the positive side of the ledger.
This was a great start, and maybe the change in momentum that the team needed in order to do what they believe they need to do; which at a minimum should be to get out of the 1st round in these playoffs and give their 2nd round opponent all they can handle.