The Clippers billed themselves as a fast-breaking, high-flying team of super athletes and the puppeteer in Chris Paul to pull the strings and run things. It was a renaissance for the franchise as the team went from laughing stock to real credibility really for the first time in frnachise history. Last year marked the first time since the move to Los Angeles that the team made back-to-back Playoff appearances.
Getting to the Playoffs is nice. It is not championships. And to really shed that laughingstock label, the Clippers have to raise some banners to put next to the Lakers signage in their arena.
Failing to get out of the first round last year with the Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan core led to changes. Major changes.
Doc Rivers is in now as the head coach and the Clippers continue their spending binge to compete and play for a championship. It is a major culture change. And so too will go the moniker that made them a YouTube darling.
Lob City doesn't exist anymore. Lob City is done. We're moving on and we're going to find our identity during training camp, and that will be our new city. No more Lob City.
Somehow, this probably does not mean the end of highlight dunks. Chris Paul is best in the open floor with Griffin flying down the wings going up for alley-oops. But it is also a recognition that it takes more than flash to win championships. That is something the Clippers have failed to do the last two seasons.
Rivers brings that championship pedigree and should be a good pair with Paul as a former point guard. He will bring a sense of purpose and gravitas to the efforts this season.
Rivers said Lob City will not be completely dead, but the Clippers need to entwine the identity of a winner with that of the fast-breaking entertaining team the Clippers have been the last few years. Rivers is, pretty much saying, the frills need to be gone and the focus on winning needs to begin.
The roster certainly should have those expectations.
Paul is perhaps the best point guard in the NBA and a great leader, almost single handedly transforming the franchise with his leadership and playmaking. Griffin is still growing as a dynamic player, but the sky remains the limit for a player with his athleticism. DeAndre Jordan is a good backstop. And this is a deep team with Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison coming off the bench.
Is that enough to win a title?
Rivers will help. A renewed focus on what it takes to win — and the experience to do so — will help.
But it is a long road to June.