NBA

The Clippers Are Playing for Much More Than an NBA Championship

This has been an unusual NBA season. Some people think this year’s winning team should come with an asterisk due to the league’s restart in the bubble. But a champion is a champion. Every player is giving it his all to try to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Clippers are one team hoping to go all the way. And they’re playing for more than just the first NBA title in franchise history.

The Clippers play for the working class fans

The Clippers are often considered the “other” LA team, taking a backseat to the Lakers. This intensified in 2018 when the Lakers signed LeBron James. So, as Bleacher Report details, the Clippers launched a new marketing campaign, LA Our Way, suggesting the idea that they’re the team of working-class LA residents. They’re for “the people in the back,” according to point guard Patrick Beverley.

The Clippers’ marketing campaign announces they’re more than a team; they’re “a movement.” With everything that’s going on in America and the uniqueness of this year’s postseason, the Clippers have a chance to back up this statement and steal some of the LA fandom away from James’ Lakers.

Steve Ballmer helps the community

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Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014 when the franchise experienced a trying time with controversies around previous owner Donald Sterling. Ballmer has done what he can to turn things around. He’s invested a lot of money for a new arena in nearby Inglewood, Calif.

However, Ballmer is investing in more than the team. He’s donated millions of dollars to local nonprofits, including charities in communities of color. Here are some of Ballmer’s philanthropic efforts in the LA area:

  • Ballmer and his wife, Connie, donated to the LA Parks Foundation. This allowed the organization to renovate 350 basketball courts.
  • Due to an uproar in Inglewood about the Clippers’ new arena, the Ballmer’s pledged to invest $100 million into the community, including $75 million toward affordable housing. This has helped solidify the team’s appeal to working-class Angelenos.

Can the Clippers win the championship?

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The Clippers have never won the NBA title. But they may have as good a chance as ever to do that this year. The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George leading the team — not a bad top pair to have for the playoffs.

Center Ivica Zubac had a good restart despite entering the bubble later than others, details ESPN. He averaged 11.3 points and 11.1 rebounds in his first seven games of the restart, and he went 69.6% shooting. If he can keep that up in the playoffs, the Clippers will have extra production from an unexpected player.

As the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, the Clippers have to get through the Mavericks in the first round. This may not be as easy considering the Mavs averaged 125 points per game in the bubble’s finish to the regular season. But the Clippers’ defense should be able to keep Dallas well below that number.

One thing working in the Clippers’ favor: They won’t have to face the top-seeded Lakers until the Western Conference Finals (if both teams make it that far).