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Sixers 101 - Clippers 90

If you don't have NBA League Pass and missed this game, count yourself lucky.  It was brutal.  I'm not going to dwell on it.  Teams have bad games and it's not infrequent that those bad games come at the end of long road trips (this was game 6 of this 7 game trip).  So the Clippers were flat and got their asses handed to them by a mediocre team playing with a ton of energy.  It happens.  (By the way, the Sixers played some great defense - I can't fault them there.)

I do have a couple of ancillary rants, however.

After spending the day with the family, I got back to the LBC just before tip off.  I walked into the Legends about 4:40 PM where I could have happily watched any one of four college basketball games on one of the 19 HD TVs around the place.  I asked the host if they could get the Clippers game on one of them and he said he would check.  It seemed to take inordinately long, but he returned and said they were going to switch one of the screens at the bar to the game.  Great, thanks.

I sat at the bar and ordered a black and tan.  I began following the progress of the Sixer-Clippers on the ESPN ticker.  By the way, here are the college games that were on -

  • Kansas State versus Oklahoma State - KSU in a blow out, but a chance to watch Beasley, so I can understand that someone might be interested.
  • Villanova versus Seton Hall - a nail-biter, but I'm not a fan of the Big East.
  • Oregon versus Cal - OK, it's Pac-10 so maybe someone in Long Beach is mildly interested.  But we're talking about the battle for seventh place in the conference.  And it was half time.
  • Nevada versus Hawaii - WAC basketball.  Nice.  Go Rainbow Warriors!

Now, I want to tell a sports bar their business, but I would have thought that they might be, you know, aware of the fact that a professional basketball team from Los Angeles was on TV at that time.  That, you know, just maybe one of the 4 screens showing Nevada versus Hawaii (Go Rainbow Warriors!) might be better used.  But that's me.

I don't know how long I waited.  I asked the bartender to double check and please make sure that someone was doing something.  It would seem that we've advanced beyond the point of the bartender with the remote control - apparently there is only one person in the entire joint that is capable of or allowed to change channels - and that person was busy doing something else.  So I waited.  With 8:05 remaining in the first half and the Clippers trailing 35-27, they finally got the TV switched.  Did I mention that two of the college games had ended by then, and one set of screens was showing drag racing while another was showing high school basketball?  Again, I don't want to tell them their business, but with 19 HD TV's and a control panel from the Johnson Space Center (I'm assuming), you'd think they could do better than just having every TV permanently tuned to a different flavor of ESPN.  I could do that in my house.  Maybe Legends is owned by Disney.

Of course, whereas the game had not been going well for the Clippers to that point, it went straight to Hades once I got to watch.  On the first Sixers' possession I watched, the Clippers were whistled for 3 non shooting fouls in less than 10 seconds, putting the Sixers in the bonus for the final 7:43 of the half.  As Ricky told us, the Sixers are that rare NBA team with no post up presence, and no outside shooting.  Not to worry Ricky: 18 of the next 21 Sixers points came on dunks, layups and free throws.  It was excruciating.  Oh, that's right, I wasn't going to dwell on the game.

The whole Legends experience just slapped me in the face once again with the indignity of being a Clippers fan in LA.  In many ways, I've isolated myself from that problem.  I no longer take a newspaper, so I don't have to deal with the shame of being banished to page 8.  The Kobe jerseys on sale in the Target are an annoyance, but I can find a Clippers jersey on line if I really want one.  And ClipsNation of course connects me to other Clipper fans, so one can almost imagine that the team is being taken seriously.  

But walking into a sports bar in the greater LA area while a Clippers game is in progress, and groveling for them to please turn on THE NBA GAME FOR THE LOCAL TEAM - and having them look at me quizzically - rips away my warm bloggy cocoon.

But I made another mistake.

Not really wanting to sit in a bar by myself, I called my friend Scott to see if he wanted to join me.  Scott is a good friend and a huge basketball fan.  We've played ball together for several years (though I have all but stopped playing, and he tore his ACL last year) and we'll often go to Staples Center.  The problem is, that like most LA residents, Scott is really a Lakers fan.  For the last three seasons, as the Clippers have been as good or better than the Lakers, everything has been fine.  Scott can feign interest in the Clippers; I can discuss with him what's wrong with the Lakers; no one's feeling get hurt.

But now that the Lakers are back on top of the world, the old prejudices can re-emerge.  Shortly after Scott arrived this conversation took place (I'm paraphrasing of course):

Scott: So what are the Clippers going to do?
CS: What do you mean?
Scott: Well they have to do something.  They're terrible.
CS: The Clippers are fine.  They don't really need to do anything other than get their players back.
Scott: They should just start over.
CS: They're fine.  The one thing they DON'T want to do is panic.  Take the best player and another starter off any NBA team and see what happens.
Scott: Good teams overcome injuries.
CS: Um, no they don't.  What's the Spurs record without Duncan?  Take Kobe off the Lakers for the season and see what happens.
Scott: Sure, but that's Kobe.
CS: Good comeback.  What does that even mean?
Scott: Besides, Livingston's not any good.  I'd take Jordan Farmar over Livingston.
CS: This conversation is over.

It wasn't quite as testy as that.  And I'm sure I was overly defensive.  And if Shaun Livingston never plays basketball again, then Jordan Farmar might actually be better than him.  (Farmar has been great this season, and Livingston has always underachieved - but Farmar's ceiling is on the third floor of Livingston's skyscraper, and let's face it, Mitch Kupchak would take Livingston over Farmar in an instant, even with his future in question.)

(I don't think Scott ever reads ClipsNation.  If you come across this buddy, I'm using you to illustrate a point that I believe is valid to other citizens.  I'm not mad.  I still love you man.  But don't EVER tell me Farmar is better than Livingston again.)

Meanwhile, the NBA page of ESPN went with this headline after the game:  'Sixers win third straight over woeful Clippers.'  Woeful Clippers.  For years, if indeed a casual basketball fan was even aware of the existence of the Clippers, they probably had no idea they played in Los Angeles.  (As my aunt from Boston said to me this summer, "The Clippers can't be from Los Angeles - that's the Lakers.")  That casual fan probably thought the Clippers were from Woeful, Washington.  Or perhaps Hapless, Texas.  "Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing your Woeful Clippers."  

It was a bad day yesterday.  A bad day.

I may be back later with a post about Chris Kaman.  I mentioned that I was a little concerned after the Toronto game.  After yesterday, I'm ready to panic.