Editor's note: Yesterday, I introduced a new team member as ClipsDanielle; today she's here with her first feature, but now she's Danielle Greenberg. Shows what I know. At any rate, her first ever feature here looks at the off-season in camaraderie for the Los Angeles Clippers. — Steve
Training camp is just around the corner, and the cure for NBA and Clippers withdrawal is, thankfully, almost here. As the buildup to the 2014-2015 season comes to a crescendo, it seems appropriate to pause for a moment and reflect on how team unity and chemistry have continued to thrive during a very trying summer, one filled with uncertainty over the ownership situation and lingering questions over Doc Rivers' future with the team.
Considering the unbelievable stress of the Donald Sterling fiasco and the team's gut-wrenching defeat in the semifinals against Oklahoma City, one could not really begrudge any of the Clippers for wanting space this summer to decompress. Many fans, including this one, were doing happy dances in their living rooms a mere fifty seconds before the final buzzer of Game 5 in the second round, only to be metaphorically doused with cold water. As bad as it was to watch, it must have been infinitely worse to experience as a player. Some people may have doubted if the Clippers could remain close through such a demoralizing and stressful sequence of events. However, the team proved their unity by banding together during the off-season and supporting each other through major events and personal milestones. This is a tight-knit group, and it should be heartening to all Clippers fans that the team went through the proverbial wringer this summer and seems to have come out stronger and more unified. Here is a brief sampling of just some of the unofficial team activities from this past offseason:
— Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes, and rising sophomore Reggie Bullock went to Croatia together shortly after the season ended. In his interview in the October edition of GQ, Griffin seems to suggest that this trip was the result of a marathon session of Game of Thrones, as he wanted to see King's Landing. Jordan posted a photo to Instagram of him and good friend Griffin back flipping into the gorgeous Croatian water.
It is refreshing that, after spending all season crisscrossing the country together on planes and buses, four of our players enjoy each other's company so much that they willingly spent their time off work together far away from home.
— Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis participated in the celebrity flag football game for Barnes' Athletes VS. Cancer charity. Barnes founded this organization in honor of his mother, who passed away from cancer in 2007.
Barnes co-hosted the event with rapper Snoop Dogg. Football seems to be a passion shared by several members of the Clippers, and they were able to show off their skills at this event and get their competitive juices flowing in time for the season.
This charity is clearly near and dear to Barnes' heart, and it's uplifting to see four teammates show up to support him in the offseason, as they have the time and means to be anywhere else in the world.
— On the night before his August 23, 2014 wedding, Jamal Crawford hosted an epic evening at his annual Seattle Pro-Am. Keeping Seattle tied in to the NBA seems to be a passion of Crawford's, a native son of Seattle, and his teammates did not let him down in giving NBA-starved Seattleites a treat. Griffin, Paul, Jordan, Barnes, and new addition Spencer Hawes (a Seattle native) joined numerous other NBA figures to host a "Midnight Run" game that was open to the public.
The very next day, these teammates (and new owner Steve Ballmer) witnessed Crawford marry his longtime love Tori and celebrated in fashion. The players proudly posed for photos with the happy groom, with Matt Barnes posting some excellent images from the soirée.
Hawes also made sure the world was aware of the dance skills (or lack thereof) of his teammates by posting a video of the Clippers getting loose on a very different kind of hardwood.
Hawes is new to the group, and it's a testament to how welcoming his new teammates are that he seems to fit in right away.
It's clearly encouraging to see players choose to spend time together and support each other during the summer months. The fact that Steve Ballmer attended Crawford's wedding seems to suggest that the owner can now truly be included in the Clippers family. Although off-court chemistry alone cannot win games, it seems to make the highs more meaningful and the lows more bearable. Clippers fans are fortunate to have such a high-character group of individuals representing their team. Let's hope it will translate to even more on-court success.