A strange thing happened last April and May. For a brief time, the Clippers were relevant. The combination of decades of management focused more on saving money than on winning games and the sun blotting shadow of the Lakers (banners in the 70's, 90's and 00's - how is that even fair?) made the Clippers easily the least important franchise in the NBA year in and year out.
Then, suddenly and very briefly, the Clippers were on the map. Elton Brand was an MVP candidate. Sam Cassell was a minor miracle winning playoff games at 36. Chris Kaman was this wacky, ambidextrous big man with a crazy hair cut. Shawn Livingston was a superstar-to-be. The Clippers - Nuggets first round matchup was the single-most lop-sided series in the playoffs. And most importantly, the Clippers were playing after the Lakers had been eliminated. From an NBA perspective, the Clippers were THE big market team still playing in May.
At the conclusion of All Star weekend, Clipper relevance is a distant memory. Consider that 27 out of 30 NBA teams had SOMEONE representing them in Las Vegas for All Star weekend. Only the Clippers, Sixers and Kings had nobody. No All Stars, no Rookies, no Sophomores, no dunkers, no shooters. In Philadelphia's case, their absence was by design. Perennial All Star Allen Iverson was traded away, and I'm certain Andre Iguodala would have been welcome in the Slam Dunk contest if he'd wanted to, but he was probably still pissed off that he was ripped off the year before. As for Sacramento, it's a little sad for them, but irrelevance is a little more understandable there. After all, Los Angeles has suburbs bigger than Sacramento. (This isn't hyperbole.)
That Elton Brand was not selected to the All Star team as a replacement is a travesty, but just indicative of the irrelevance of the Clippers. That the Clippers didn't have a young player representing them in the Rookie-Sophomore game continues a disquieting trend; indeed they haven't had anyone in that game since Chris Kaman played as a Rookie against Marko Jaric as a sophomore 3 years ago. And the idea of an MDsr era Clipper in either the Slam Dunk contest or the Three Point Shootout is just laughable.
The team was re-relegated to the inside pages of the LA Times Sports Section months ago, after beginning the season on (almost) equal footing with the Lakers.
Of course, all of this irrelevance is second-nature to Clipper fans. But it hurts more this time, after making an appearance on the radar a mere 9 months ago.
At least Lindsay was in Las Vegas. She's still relevant.