But the best part of the schedule is that the Clippers should be playing in front of fans, unlike the bulk of the 2020-21 season. And that means a lot of former Clippers will be able to play in front of real crowds as opponents for the first time. Almost two years worth of return/revenge games have been distilled into one 82-game calendar, which makes for some intriguing matchups at Staples Center.
Here’s a list of return games to mark on your schedule for the 2021-22 season:
Saturday, October 23 vs. Memphis: Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu
Well, maybe you can skip this one.
It’s a good thing that the Grizzlies traded away Patrick Beverley, because otherwise all three of these players could be returning to Los Angeles at once, and they are not of the same importance in Clippers lore. It’s not even a certainty that Rondo and Oturu are even on the Memphis roster when the season begins, but if they are, the Clippers should throw up a picture of each on the Jumbotron with the tagline “Thank You”.
Wednesday, October 27 vs. Cleveland: Mfiondu Kabengele
Another Clipper who didn’t exactly leave an impression; it’s hard to imagine the organization doing much more than shouting out Kabengele during an early timeout. I don’t even think the majority of Clippers fans would stand for Fi.
Saturday, November 13 vs. Minnesota: Patrick Beverley
Here’s a big one. Mr. 94 Feet returns to the Staples Center as a visitor after four years in a Clippers uniform. The culture that the Clippers have created since Lob City is inextricable from Beverley’s personality, and he will assuredly get the full video tribute and standing ovation. Knowing Pat Bev, he’ll be too busy talking to his teammates during the timeout to pay attention to the video and will have to watch it later.
Friday, November 26 vs. Detroit: Rodney McGruder
Wednesday, December 1 vs. Sacramento: Moe Harkless
Monday, December 13 vs. Phoenix: Landry Shamet
All three of these guys have been gone for more than a year, but none of them were able to play in front of fans when they visited Los Angeles in 2020-21. I truly have no recollection of how/if the Clippers honored McGruder or Harkless, who is somehow on his third team since leaving the Clippers in 2020; Shamet only got a photo tribute when I thought he’d earned a video. It’s unlikely any of them get additional recognition more than a season removed from being Clippers, but if you’re in the building, show some love.
Sunday, January 9 vs. Atlanta: Lou Williams
I might be rooting for Sweet Lou to drop 50 in this one. The soul of the Clippers for nearly four seasons, Lou Will was a Clipper icon and fan favorite. The organization better have a killer tribute prepped for his return — I assume it will include his buzzer-beater over the Nets in 2019.
Friday, March 25 vs. Philadelphia: Doc Rivers
Like McGruder, Harkless, and Shamet, Rivers also returned to Staples Center in a fan-less building in 2021. He also spent more than twice as long with the Clippers as those three players combined. Whether it was time to move on from Rivers or not, he’s a formative part of this franchise’s history. He helped make this a first-class organization, and he deserves some appreciation when he comes to Los Angeles in front of a packed crowd.
Whose return are you anticipating the most?