My heart. It hurts. My head, too. But mostly my heart. I have PTCD; Post Traumatic Clippers Disorder. Especially when it comes to Game 5’s. Yes, I'm looking at you 2006, 2014, and, unfortunately, 2015. I’m not here to write the Los Angeles Clippers off before Game 6 tips off on Thursday night. Frankly, that game is too far away for me to even be emotionally stable enough to handle the ramifications of a win or a loss. I love the Clippers. We love the Clippers. There’s that old saying, "forever the bridesmaid, never the bride." Screw being the bridesmaid. The Clippers weren’t even invited to the wedding in the first place. They’re a friend of the friend of the bride and got that random Facebook invite 12 hours before the wedding and didn’t have enough time to go shopping so they just sat at home eating Häagen-Dazs by the pint and sobbing uncontrollably while watching "Sex and the City" and pondering their existence.
The Los Angeles Clippers were an ugly teen. They had a horrible father who kept giving them hand-me-down clothing and scraps from the dinner table even though the father was eating prime rib and mashed potatoes on a nightly basis. Despite the best efforts of the father to keep the teen ugly enough to dissuade possible suitors, the teen finally broke out and earned its beauty. The father finally got caught for his sleazy behavior, admonished for it, and the teen went to live with the really awesome step-father who was more of a father than the actual father was. It bought the teen new clothes, new shoes, and even a new car. It made the teen feel happy. It made the teen feel wanted.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a happy ending. Not yet, at least. You see, the teen is now grown up and living its life as a productive and functioning member of society. It goes to work every day, it complains about the boss just like everyone else, and they often get to go on vacations with fifteen other friends that they’ve made over the years. They attend weddings for some of those friends. They date, they laugh, they love, they struggle. They feel their time is about to come. Except it hasn’t. Not yet. The ugly teen has grown to be good-looking yet can’t keep a suitable spouse and every time it looks like marriage is about to happen, they get left at the alter wondering where their significant other has run off to (and with whom).
It makes me think of Al Bundy and "Married With Children" a little bit. There was an episode where Al took a $12,000 offer for early retirement from the shoe store that he worked at only to find out that Peggy, his wife, found the money and spent it all in one hour of shopping. In the end, he winds up back at his old job. The Clippers are Al Bundy. They work hard, cash out, and then are faced with the nightmare that someone else has used their luck. It also reminds me of Eminem from "8 Mile" in the sense that the Clippers kept getting beat up, clowned on, and ridiculed for not fitting in. They’re currently still trying to overcome their version of Papa Doc. I guess we’ll see how that goes.
In the pantheon of Clipper Land sports tragedies – as far games go, at least – the Clippers and Spurs game on Tuesday night ranks right up there with them. Ah, Clipper Land. The land of soy milk and Nutella. We’ve had a rough go as of late. In just the last two years we’ve had the Sterling Saga, the Oklahoma City debacle, and now, the San Antonio debacle. Wrapped around that stuff is the fact the Clippers are in the midst of their best stretch in franchise history. That’s not to say much since, well, the franchise hasn’t been good for the vast majority of their history. This is only really a recent thing. And that’s fine. We still hear the "you’ve only been a fan for the last three years" talk but, hey, Miami Heat fans heard the same. That’s pretty much the nature of the business when your team gets good. Especially quickly.
The Clippers are the Cubs of the NBA realm but with far less history, of course. They’re the Loveable Losers. But they’re our loveable losers. Sure, they break our heart and leave us in pain but at least we know we love them. That feeling is love. I mean, there’s a whole lot of "WHYYYYYY" mixed in there every time something like last night transpires but I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything (other than a championship, duh). Yet, I’m okay with the heartbreak. It means we’re close. It means the team is right there on the cusp of something great that we can all collectively get riled up and disheveled at any sign of failure. We’re just so used to failure that we’re looking for one glimpse into what success feels like.
We’re peering through the window at the beautiful horizon; the good-looking grown-up that people still view as the ugly teen. Our time will come. It might not be tomorrow, it might not be the next day, and it might not be the next day(s) after that. It might come a couple years down the road when someone steps out from the dance floor at one of those weddings we got the late invite to and takes us by the hand to lead us onto the dance floor because they see something in us that no one else sees or is capable of seeing. We’re just waiting on that hand to grab us. We’re eternal optimists in a pessimistic world. So, put the ice cream down. Take a deep breath. Get up off the couch or sofa or bed. Take a shower, get dressed to the nines, go crash the damn party, and dance your tooshie off like you don't have a care in the world.