There are countless opinions about the stunning transformation of the Los Angeles Clippers.
You know, the news that sent shockwaves throughout the NBA over the weekend.
The addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both of whom are still in their 20s, to the Clippers roster has altered the balance of power in the Western Conference.
Exciting times in Tinsel Town.
It’s a day that will be talked about for decades to come.
Bill Plaschke, a Los Angeles Times sports columnist since 1996, summed up the dramatic news in a poignant column with this attention-grabbing headline: “Fasten your seat belts, the Clippers are joining the elite.”
“On a transformative Friday night beyond even Clipper Darrell’s wildest dreams, the Clippers acquired arguably the best player in the NBA, traded for another player in the league’s elite, and have suddenly gone from a perennial afterthought to the spotlight of a potential NBA championship,” he wrote.
“Kawhi Leonard? Are you kidding me?
“Paul George? Are you serious?
“The Clippers as legitimate competitors in both basketball and buzz to a Lakers team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, is that real?”
“It is now. In a span of what seemed like 10 seconds, the two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Leonard told the Clippers he would be signing there as a free agent just before the Clippers traded Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a slew of draft picks for Oklahoma City star George.
Just remember this: The Clippers lost 50 or more games in 19 of 27 seasons between 1984-85 and 2010-11. What’s more, they were 9-41 in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign. They went to the playoffs just four times in that abysmal stretch. (They moved to L.A. from San Diego in 1984.)
Comedians had unlimited material to work with when telling jokes about this franchise.
What the future holds
And what does this history-changing day mean for the franchise whose history was marked by mediocrity for decades?
“This is the most important franchise moment since the league stripped the team from Donald Sterling and sold it to Steve Ballmer,” Plaschke correctly opined. “These are the most compelling player acquisitions in like, forever.
“They’re suddenly not some gritty little team hoping to sneak into the playoffs on a Doc and a prayer. This is now a potential powerhouse with Leonard and George supported by Patrick Beverley and coached up by Doc Rivers and, well, aren’t they as good as anyone else in the West?
“This is also the singular greatest triumph in franchise history, mostly because nobody thought they could pull it off.”
Perspective from Mark Heisler
Astute NBA pundit Mark Heisler, whose weekly column appears in the Los Angeles Daily News and Orange County Register, also weighed in on the bold moves by the Clippers.
“It has taken several years to figure out what to make of Steve Ballmer, but there’s no mistaking what he has done,” wrote Heisler, who covered the Lakers for decades. “The Clippers now have a high-powered front office led by Lawrence Frank with Jerry West in the wings, in contrast to the Lakers’ Friends & Family approach under Jeanie Buss.
“The Lakers got this far only with a prodigious recruiting effort by James, who masterminded the trade that stole Davis from New Orleans, then turned his attention to Leonard, who had never shown any interest in the Lakers until ten.
“Instead, the Clippers, of all people, headed off LeBron at the pass…”
For the Clippers, the future looks remarkably bright.
There’s a first time for everything, right?