More On The Clippers Implosion

I know they were sent home a week ago, but they are still skating.

Jim Rome
September 22, 2020 - 11:50 am
Paul George

USA Today

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Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is tonight. And speaking of the Western Conference Finals, you know who’s skating? The Los Angeles Clippers. Talk about a team and an organization that is GETTING OVER?!

Yes, I know they were sent home a week ago, but they are still skating. Still not taking nearly the heat they deserve for going into the tank the way they did. A team with that kind of talent, and an alleged Larry O or the season is a bust, mentality, should not be golfing right now. And the fact that they are, and most of the reaction was just one big shrug or eye roll is incredible to me.

The fact that everyone was like, it’s team chemistry, and just moved on, is all kinds of whack. You choke the way you did, and that’s all you have to say for yourselves….our chemistry wasn’t the best, but we still are. No matter what the scoreboard says. Don’t sweat it. We’re not. We’ll see you next year when we’re back to defend that world championship we just won. Our chemistry was off? That’s really what you’re going with?  Because there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with your chemistry when you ran out to double digit leads in all three of your elimination games against the Nuggets before getting hammered and humiliated in all three of those games.

What are you going to tell me next? That team chemistry is the reason, no one but like team chemistry superstars absolutely vanishing in the second half of Game 7. If that’s the case, you don’t have poor chemistry, you have the worst chemistry ever. Especially if it’s toxic that you blow three straight double digit leads, in three straight elimination games. 

Are you kidding me??? This is a team that was really good last year. A team that gave the Steph-Klay-Draymond-KD Warriors hell in the first round. Then they added two MVP candidates and their results were barely better. And way more humiliating. How do you not improve after adding two hall of famers? Hell, how do you get worse?

If the Lakers or Warriors imploded like this, you’d never hear the end of it. Hell, the Rockets didn’t have nearly the expectations of the Clippers this year, went out on same round, and somehow took more heat. Somehow their stars were questioned way more than the Clippers stars were initially.

But some of that is starting to change. The Athletic has a piece about the Clippers locker room and in particular on Paul George.

“Multiple teammates had verbal spats with George throughout the postseason, citing in their exchanges a lack of accountability from him.”

That echoes some of the earlier reporting on George and team chemistry, like the story from Chris Haynes about Montrez Harrell and George getting into it in Game 2 of the Denver series after George committed a turnover and didn’t take responsibility.

“Harrell responded with something along the lines of, “You’re always right. Nobody can tell you nothing,” and expletives were uttered from both players, sources said.”

If you’re a legitimate leader and you want other guys to follow you, you can’t just point the finger at everyone else: you have to be accountable, responsible and completely own everything you say and do, especially if you disappear at the worst possible time the way Paul did. Instead, from the sounds of it, not only did he not do that, he was pointing the finger at nearly everything and everyone else. If you want to lead from the front, you want to gloss yourself Playoff P, you better show up and show out in the playoffs, P. But time and again, he didn’t, hence the twitter nickname Pandemic P.

And from the sounds of it, Pandemic P wasn’t just having a negative impact on the court. There was this from The Athletic: “In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, George was preaching to teammates to remain committed, for all the players to return to the team this offseason and stay ready to make another run. It was met by some eye rolls and bewilderment, sources said, because George did not back up his words with action in the series and the team has multiple free agents with decisions to make.

I don’t have a PhD in chemistry, but I’m guessing if the guy is met with bewilderment and eye rolls when he’s trying to send them off into the offseason with some powerful message, they really don’t give a damn what you have to say; and mostly because you no showed when it mattered most.

Right now, what little heat there has been on the Clippers since that faceplant is falling on Paul George and team chemistry? And again, I’ll ask, if the team chemistry was that bad and there were reports of how bad it was going back to January, how come they didn’t fix it?

And as long as we’re talking about skating, let’s not sleep on Kawhi Leonard. If he is the superstar that we thought he was, he has to take a ton for this loss. In fact, he probably should take way more than Paul George, because unlike Playoff P, Kawhi has actually be there and done that. He’s won in the playoffs.

And yes, I understand that by all accounts, he is not the most vocal leader. I’m not sure anyone expected that he would be. Nobody’s looking for him to be Winston Churchill, but the phrase that’s thrown around with Kawhi is that he’s more of a “lead by example” guy.

Okay, that’s fine. Leadership can show up in a lot of different ways. But if you’re a lead by example guy and you go 1 for 11 in the second half of a Game 7, exactly what example are you leading with? If you’re going to fall back on your actions and your actions are awful, where does that leave the team?

And it wasn’t just the 1 for 11 shooting, it was the general disinterest and lack of passion from him. So again, exactly what example are you leading with?

Hey guys, let’s all shoot terribly and look like we want to be somewhere else! Let’s all dig deep and blow this game right now! Let’s get out of here!

Can you imagine if LeBron went 1 for 11 in the second half of a Game 7 and generally looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there, the sort of heat he would take? He would be absolutely destroyed in the media for weeks and months on end. Nobody would ever let him forget it.

But one week later, it’s more or less forgotten. It’s almost like it didn’t even happen.  Everyone kind of shrugs off Kawhi’s role in this collapse. It seems like everyone just says, the team chemistry wasn’t great.

By the way, it’s not like chemistry has to be great for a team to win. Did you see the Last Dance? That wasn’t always a brotherhood.

Hell, did you hear Jeff Pearlman on the show yesterday? Kobe Bryant punched Samaki Walker in the head over 100 bucks and Walker threw a Discman at his head. Kobe and Shaq were not exactly brothers and they managed to stack wins.

The Clippers straight choked this year: you’d have look long and hard to find a more disappointing team and effort than what you saw from these guys.  Yet no one is saying jack about it. They are skating. Maybe it’s because they’re the clippers and no one ever expects anything from them. But instead, went right into the tank. Just be glad it happened in September, where’s there’s football and not June where everyone would have been focused on that catastrophic choke. I mean, if that a team melts that badly in the forest and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound. Apparently not. But I heard it. And I saw it. And I know they’re not getting nearly the heat they deserve for it.