After decades of mediocrity, the LA Clippers began to turn the tide in the 2010s. Since the ’80s, the franchise managed to get to the playoffs just four times. But following the 2012 season, the Clippers managed to reach the playoffs six times in a row.
Led by a young Blake Griffin and veteran Chris Paul, the team was finally legitimate contenders in the East. However, a rift was brewing between the team’s All-Star tandem and it ultimately prevented the Clippers from reaching the top.
The Clippers end their mediocrity with two stars
Following a horrific 19-63 2008 season, the Clippers managed to secure the No.1 overall pick, where they selected Griffin. Griffin was a dominant force at Oklahoma University and garnered a lot of attention entering the draft.
The Clippers selected him ahead of other future NBA stars such as Steph Curry and DeMar DeRozan. Although the Clippers squandered No.1 overall picks before, they hoped to start a new era with Griffin. It was a slow start to Griffin’s career when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game of his rookie year.
Griffin would have success the following year when he made his official NBA start. The team began to take off when the Clippers added Paul to the roster in 2011. Nicknamed “Lob City,” the tandem of Griffin and Paul put on spectacular displays. However, the honeymoon was short-lived between the two All-Stars.
A rift begins to divide Blake Griffin and Chris Paul
Although Griffin and Paul were putting on dazzling performances, and the Clippers were consistently making the playoffs, there was a very apparent rift forming behind the scenes. According to Clippers coach Doc Rivers, reports Clutch Points, the team lacked a true leader.
Since Griffin was selected No.1 overall, he believed he was the leader of the Clippers. However, many teammates viewed Griffin as a poor communicator and leader. Teammate Jared Dudley has since called out Griffin’s leadership ability.
Many of Griffin’s teammates questioned his leadership, so they saw Paul as the real leader. Paul had a more apparent vocal presence, a higher drive to win, and seemed to have more dedication to the team. Both Griffin and Paul are alpha males, and the favoritism toward Paul ultimately caused the rift. Despite the talent, the Clippers were unable to mend the rift.
The legacy of Lob City
After the 2017 NBA season, the Clippers traded Paul to the Rockets for a slew of players and a first-round pick. Many considered Paul to be one of the best point guards in the league. Although Paul was joining the helm of another NBA All-Star James Harden, he is reminiscent of his time with the Clippers. Paul acknowledges that he and Griffin were among the best duos in the league during their time together.
The season after the Paul trade, reports NBC Sports, the Clippers traded Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. The transaction officially marked the end of the Griffin era. Although the team finally ended its long drought of mediocrity, the Clippers were never able to reach the pinnacle, still lacking the all-desired NBA championship.
Even though Lob City never reached their full potential, the Clippers remain a perennial team in the NBA. In 2019, the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard, who just completed a championship campaign with the Toronto Raptors, is poised to bring the Clippers their first NBA Title. The tandem of Leonard and George is shaping up to be Lob City 2.0, and are looking to dethrone the Lakers as the best team of LA.