I still am trying to process what happened last night. It doesn’t feel real. It shouldn’t be real. For the first time in 50 years, the Clippers will be playing in the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers defied the odds not once, but twice, becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome two 2-0 deficits in a single postseason. Not only did the Clippers come back from a 2-0 deficit, they won four in a row against the best team in the NBA... without their best player.
I really have no clue how they did it.
Game 6 was the complete opposite of everything that has happened in the history of this franchise. For years, the Clippers have had their chances to advance to the conference finals. Hell, they were 0-8 all-time entering last night’s game when they were a win away. Usually, the Clippers get a solid lead and then ultimately blow it. That’s what they’ve done for years.
Last night, they flipped the script. Down 25 in the third quarter, it looked as if they’d be flying to Utah for Game 7 on Sunday. I think you and me both had ideas of how that potential game would have gone. Game 6 was over. It was done. No chance the Clippers would come back. It looked as if the curse would carry on. And then, well... I still don’t know how to describe what exactly took place inside Staples Center.
I became a Clippers fan because growing up as an only child. My parents would take me to lots of games because of how cheap tickets were. I didn’t know the difference between the Lakers and Clippers, I just enjoyed going to basketball games. I stuck it out through all those terrible years. I didn’t care about the wins and losses, I just cared about the team I’d see 10 times a season.
Growing up in elementary school and middle school I was the only Clippers fan around. In high school there were a few, mainly because they didn’t follow basketball and I turned them into fans. I always cheered for the Clippers alone. I didn’t have anyone to root for them with. But that was okay. I loved rooting for the underdog.
I can remember each elimination as if it happened yesterday.
The blown 2-0 series lead in the first round to the Grizzlies. The blown 2-0 series lead in the first round against the Blazers. Losing in seven to the Jazz in the first round. Game 5 in the second round in Oklahoma City. The Josh Smith game. The blown 3-1 series lead in the bubble. I remember it all. It’s far too painful. So many bad memories, with very few good ones.
There was no reason to believe this would be anything different. But it was.
The funny part is, the Clippers are now halfway through the playoffs, which seems crazy. Last night seemed like they had won the NBA Finals. For us die-hard fans, it pretty much was. Nobody has ever seen the Clippers advance this far, so this is new for us. I’m glad Staples Center was louder than it’s ever been. I’m glad that Clippers fans were celebrating in the streets.
We earned this. We deserve this.
All of the different players that have come and gone. The different coaches. The fan favorites, the players we didn’t want to say goodbye to. We’ve been through it all. But this was the team that finally did it.
It’s been a long and painful couple of decades of being a Clippers fan. But last night’s win almost made it all worth it. Now, the Clippers have a chance to continue to make history. They have a chance to reach the NBA Finals for the first time, and they have a chance to win the first championship in the history of the franchise.
It’s been a wild ride, but the journey is just beginning.