It's been less than a year, but it feels like an eternity since Blake Griffin last pulverized the humanity out of some poor soul who mistakenly believed that mere mortals could stop aerial bulldozers.
With the start of training camp right around the corner, life once again re-surges like a dry savanna being watered for the first time. The fire and curiosity that can only be aroused by a no-look lob from Chris Paul arduously adorns the glow of my very being.
Gone are the days when the dreaded malady and stench of Vinnie Del Negro paramount the youth and inexperience of a budding Clippers squad. Though I fear that at some point he will tilt the winds of change against the mast of progress, it shall be minimized by the resolute character of an expanded and experienced bench.
We're deep...deep as the oceans of adversity we traverse.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin's contributions toward changing the culture and perception of a once plagued franchise cannot be understated. Without the advantage of training camp and a season full of injuries, the squad's efforts still resulted in the most successful season in Clippers history.
With Paul, Griffin, Butler, Jordan and Billups all returning to the team for the 2012-13 season, the starting lineup remains in tact, now with the benefit of the chemistry.
To augment an already solid core, the Clippers made moves during the off-season and were able to land Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill (drinks Sprite), Ronnie Turiaf (le Ronnie to you, monsieur) and most recently, Matt Barnes whose generous tattoo count instantly augments the Clippers' street cred and cool factor.
To some, the list of characters on the bench sound like a who's who list of "washed up" players. To me, they're the backbone of a Western Conference Finals team. With the tenacity of Eric Bledsoe leading the efforts of the second string, I expect a voracious and concerted by Lamar Odom—a man in dire need of re-focusing and resuscitating his career after seemingly having checked out in Dallas—and Grant Hill—an aging wonder who still manages to affect the outcome of games with the shrewdness that only experience can bring (that and Sprite).
So here's to the upcoming season! May it be one of joy, diligence, lobs and an infinite number of "settle down, Mike Smith"s.