When I walk around the vast gothic campus of Duke University, remnants of Luke Kennard greet my gaze.
Hung on one of the door rooms of Duke’s Trinity Residence Hall is a whiteboard that reads, “Who is your favorite Duke basketball player of all time?” Above the obvious fan favorites — the likes of Paolo Banchero, Jayson Tatum, and Zion Williamson — proudly stand two casually scribbled-on words: Luke Kennard.
At Cameron Indoor Stadium, you will find a handful of ‘Cameron Crazies’ that don the number five Duke jerseys. Some wear it as an ode to the team’s current number five, Tyrese Proctor. Others honor the legacy other number fives have left behind — Banchero and RJ Barrett, to name a couple. A select few proudly read “Kennard.”
Here in Durham, North Carolina, “Kennard” transcends a mere word slapped on the back of a jersey.
It’s the smiling, slim youngster from Ohio. The 35-point explosion against Maine. The 6-for-6 three-point shooting night against Wake Forest. The 1314 minutes of running, defending and shooting in 2016-17. The well-deserved 2017 ACC tournament MVP. The culture. The thrill. The passion.
Six years since he left Duke, this name — and all it stands for — has carried onto the city of Los Angeles. And it still represents what it always represented. And I can only hope it always will.
As a Clipper, he didn’t get quite the same opportunities he did as a Blue Devil. Still, he thrived in his role as an off-the-bench shooter and facilitator: in his second season in the 213, the Duke product led the league in three-point percentage.
Snap — with a flick of a wrist, he snatched the momentum away from opposing teams.
Swish — he brought Clippers fans onto their feet with game-changing three-pointers.
Phweee — his and-one three-pointer against the Washington Wizards completed the NBA’s second-biggest comeback of all time: the Kennard-led Clips came back after being down 35.
Lmao I am DYING at Ty Lue yelling, "Not me!" pic.twitter.com/FBKhej8pDw— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) January 26, 2022
In the 2021-22 season, the stealthy sorcerer of the basketball symbolized what it meant to be a Clipper — to never give up. Led by the young, feisty core of Kennard, Amir Coffey, and Terance Mann, the ‘Comeback Clips’ made history, overcoming three 24-point or more deficits in just a month of January.
Even when superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George had to sit out, it was Kennard who continued to light it up from deep, giving the team a much-needed boost. It was Kennard who never stopped giving his all for the team. It was Kennard — alongside Reggie Jackson and other key rotational pieces — that ultimately kept the Clippers boat afloat until the return of their two highly-acclaimed captains.
But in a brand new season of new struggles and expectations, the Clippers have waved their final goodbyes to Kennard. 168 games later, we’ve flipped the final page of the three-point-filled tale of L.A. Clippers’ very own Luke Kennard.
And while there may not be dozens of people still rocking their Kennard jerseys at Crypto.com Arena or statues erected in honor of the three-point sniper, the excitement, joy, and thrill he delivered haven’t just yet waned beyond us.
So, in remembrance of the heroics of Luke Kennard — the chills and surges of ecstasy he gifted us — I write. And on behalf of Los Angeles — thank you, Luke.