I Think I Can Root for the Clippers After All

Clippers Fan
Bereft of advertisers, the scoreboad promotes only Clippers pride and unity during game 5 of the NBA Western Conference playoffs at Staples Center. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Little did I think after I wrote my little diatribe against Donald Tokowitz Sterling Friday morning that the shit would hit the fan that night. But it did, and the words “banned for life,” uttered by commissioner Adam Silver Monday morning has opened the way to a forced removal of the Donald.

Bomani Jones has been the most eloquent voice in this whole shitstorm, and I’ll just present his conversation with Dan LeBatard on Monday as the definitive cheat sheet on this mess:

While it’s nice that people are acknowledging racism still exists despite a lot of white folks saying this was a post-racial world after Obama’s election. But Bomani is correct. This is a pretty stupid thing to be mad at. How about the inherent racism of the death penalty especially in Oklahoma where they can’t even get it right.

Nonetheless, here we were at Game 5 between the Clippers and the Warriors with the series tied 2-2. Had Silver not thrown the book, the anthology and the whole damn library at the Donald, the San Jose Mercury News detailed a plan by the Warriors for a dramatic boycott. The Warriors would have gone through the normal pregame rituals, and once the ball was jumped for the opening tip, the team would have walked out en masse while the ball was descending back to the ground. In fact, as Roger Mason told the media in Los Angeles earlier in the afternoon, all six teams playing yesterday would have boycotted yesterday’s games had Silver not done what he done.

The Clippers looked drained and a step slow during Game 4 in Oakland the day after the shit hit the fan. They certainly looked better to start this game getting out to a 31-21 first quarter lead. After the game Doc Rivers said that his was still a step slow, that during fast breaks in transition DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin were panting still behind the time line in the back court. Hell, he had to use all of his second half timeouts in order to get his guys some rest.

But it seemed the person most unburdened was DeAndre Jordan. In Game 4 he didn’t have a single point in 25 minutes played and managed only six rebounds. Last night? A career playoff high 25 points in 38 minutes played with 18 rebounds, six of them on the offensive glass.

After the game he told Brad Turner of the LA Times, “I felt like that just took our minds off of what has been going on,” Jordan said. “I feel like we get a lot of [stuff] from our family and our friends.

“It’s never going to go away. But I feel like it was definitely a weight lifted off our shoulders so we can just continue to focus on playing basketball.”

DJ might have been physically tired but not exhausted enough to not be in the middle of everything. As the Warriors tried to claw their way back late in the game, there was DJ on the bottom of the scrum after Stephen Curry was once again lackadaisical with the ball (he had eight turnovers), got the ball to Blake Griffin who outletted the ball to Jamal Crawford for an easy transition dunk.

The Clippers left the arena with the 113-103 win, a 3-2 lead in the series and it seemed like everyone could exhale for a second. Perhaps everyone could get a good night sleep (or as good as one can get in the middle of the playoffs.)

For me, it was a strange night. After years of wanting to root for the team but pulling back because of the specter of the Donald, I felt that for the first time I didn’t have to feel guilty about wanting the Clippers to do well. And I have to admit it felt a bit liberating.