When we found out that Samsung was sponsoring a favorite highlights series on SBNation, one of the other NBA bloggers quipped "Poor Steve with the Clippers." My first reaction as a long-suffering Clippers fan was to assume that it was some sort of insult about how terrible the Clippers have always been. Then I realized that in fact the comment was referring to the almost limitless number of unforgettable highlights generated by the Clippers over the past two seasons, aka the Blake Griffin era. Imagine that -- the Clippers have too many good moments to choose from.
Nope. Instead, I decided to hop in the way back machine and go back a decade or so to a different, and almost equally exciting Clippers team. The bad news is that the highlight is from before the days of HD highlights. The good news is that it is a truly unbelievable play.
The video in this version is a little cleaner and there are a couple of angles of the play.
This version is very poor quality video, but includes Ralph Lawler's ecstatic call of the play.
You all remember it. Sean Rooks gets a rebound, throws a baseball pass to Lamar Odom, who, in midair, throws a no-look twisting alley oop to Darius Miles for the jam. Ninety feet of basketball court, about three seconds, the ball never touches the ground, and neither do Odom or Miles for that matter. Awesome.
It's also, to me, the quintessential Clippers highlight catching all of the promise and all of the heartbreak at once. This play occurred late in Miles' rookie season at just 19 years old. Odom was 21, just his second season in the league. The play came at the end of a Clippers home win against a very good Sacramento Kings team that won 55 games that season. The young and promising Clippers closed that season (their
first second in the STAPLES Center) winning 15 of their final 28 games and seemed to really be on the verge of building something special.
But two seasons later Miles was gone in a trade for Andre Miller, Miller was a disaster as a Clipper and the season after that Odom was gone along with Miller and a slew of others. The Clippers won 31 games in 2000-2001 including the one from the highlight as a young, up and coming team -- two seasons later they won just 27 games.
The highlight seems particularly interesting right now as it features Odom, who could be a Clipper again in the next few days.
It was a spectacular play, but it's also a cautionary tale as well. NBA success is built over the long haul, not on highlight reel plays. The current Clipper team has much more promise than the one at the start of the century, but handled improperly, long term success could be just as elusive.
We know we are in for many more great highlights with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul next season -- but the real question is whether the team can sustain some level of success.