Why The Clippers Collapsed
It felt like something was happening. There is something about the emotion. Past. Was Now you've? Seen. This isn't a story. Be The athlete. It stays with you. There Sam first of all, where are you right now I'm in the NBA bubble a new home away from home inside my hotel room and Casillas number to think twenty seven, twenty two is the room number if anybody wants to. Send packages or love one of the two But yeah, this is this is why these days. How has your bubble experience been so far to be honest committed it's gotten better. The airport experience was felt more stressful than I thought it went I actually had to masks because the end ninety five that US was one of those that does not protect the other person. So I put a cloth masks over that and then I ended up doing facial as well and it was the right move except man that first day travel psychologically I, remember just getting. Into, the hotel room just going Oh, boy that was the longest day of travel. I've ever had because mentally you can't smile at people. You can't talk to people that got me off to a tough start and then it's a nice room but the windows don't open you can't have a window open. There's no balcony unfortunately, the floor when I got here had not been cleaned so I would pay some walk and have bare feet in at the end of the. Day My feet would be black and so that mentally can after four five, six days you're sitting there going man I feel like I'm in this kind of dirty box. The other stuff that the players have talked a lot about is that even if the accommodations are fairly nice, it's just the psychological restriction and lack of freedom and knowing that you cannot go where you want to go. You can go on a walk around the perimeter, but if you go that. Direction and if you even go ten feet past the perimeter, you'll get seven days a quarantine. You know the other stuff also as it's just the interpersonal relationships and the people that everybody left behind you know whether you have a family or a girlfriend or a boyfriend whatever it is all that stuff adds up to a pretty challenging landscape had a productive couple of days. I'm going to carve out a little mental health time and there's a big pick ballgame happening. This afternoon with me in a few writers. I'm getting there. Well. So speaking of all of these challenges as in the bubble, let's talk about this epic meltdown of the team, a lot of people expected to at all the clippers. mcnuggets Oregon on time La. Twenty point lead with two ten remaining. This is absolutely shocking. What went wrong with the La Against Denver I think the broadview for me would be that we always felt like this team was potentially far too transactional if that makes sense. Somebody the other day, use the word mercenaries where it's kind of like I collide Leonard Paul. George have a ton of talent and they looked very good for most of the regular season. But in the bubble, what you saw was a team that was still learning one another in a team that wants the pressure continued to be applied by these other very good playoff teams. They did not have the fabric, the togetherness that connectivity and leadership to get through that. In Game Seven, I sat about twenty feet away from the clippers bench and that meant that I watched a clippers bench that with around seven minutes to go and I think they were down around thirteen at the time they just completely look like they gave up. This is what your best players got to elevate their game. And the clippers have disappointed asphalt. From the field. Two points in the fourth quarter. And frustrated, the stock of the heads went down the talking stopped you had all of a sudden whereas earlier in the game there was a flood of support and clapping from guys on the bench and intensity and passion. You had the golf clap clippers owner Steve bomber feeling like limber fans right now. I am absolutely shocked. Give this Denver Nuggets team a lot of credit. have taken the fight away from the clippers. deservedly. So the leadership thing is what they need to analyse going forward because as amazing Kawhi is he's incredibly quiet. We know that and Paul George I don't think has really ever found his leadership voice maybe that's just not the type of personality he is. But if you compare them to that other team in La, you know you've got a dude and Lebron whose so fogel and raise on Rhonda who sell vocal and I think if I had to pinpoint one of the biggest factors that kind of led to their demise I think it would be that. you and our colleague Yvonne Boo reported on chemistry issues within the clippers back. In January, did you get the sense that those issues were still present inside the bubble? So I don't I wish I had a better pulse on that. You Doc was kind of the main voice that I heard. I went to to other practices where I would listen closely to what doc had to say, and one thing that struck me was he would very candidly talk about how they were still learning each other as a team in the middle of the playoffs I look at the whole picture and I realize we haven't been together we haven't had a lot of time together. So I get it. You had the old guard, the Lou, Williams Pat Beverley mantras hair let group that did some pretty special things and the playoffs last year and was gritty and would play forty eight minutes a night if you wanted them to. Now, they tried to integrate with Choline Paul who came with the very different script and a very different style and combining the old and the new had its fits and starts, and certainly in the end, it seems like a lot of those things out. Cherishing teams are. The more chemistry for this group. D, better. I think that's really the tell at a tape with the season just didn't have enough time together. Paul George has been vocal about the mental toll of being in the bubble a couple of weeks ago. Paul George talked about being in a dark place whatever. The bubble got the best of me. I was just in a dark place. A really wasn't here. I checked out and SAM. You've gotten a taste of what it's like to be an isolation down there. We've just talked about that. Do you feel like Paul George and the clippers were maybe hit harder by the challenges of playing in this Environment Paul for sure I mean I applaud him for his willingness to speak openly about it, and then only he knows where his head was at in the later part of the series but I'll never forget I mean right corner. He shoots that three and it clicks off the backboard George. Why office to side of the backboard left corner he barely draws rim on three George Corner three way off short. Gets the rebound Paul George. Now, just to for ten from downtown they were more shook I don't know how to explain it than any NBA team I've ever seen in a crucial moment. I've never seen anything like that. So I don't know how Paul's State of mind came into play but I do think the clippers had a really hard time getting through all that stuff. So Sam what comes next for the clippers, they have a lot of strong personalities and obviously some divisions between them can they hold it together and be titled Favorites Again Next Year you know to be determined. There's already a little bit of a growing sense or at least questions around the League of are they is there any chance they would think about blowing this out because you got to remember to why Paul signed deals they're up next summer they can get out and and when they came to the clippers. People felt like it was unofficially you know a lifetime contract because those guys have the personal connection to the area but I think we're quickly getting reminded that if the basketball situation is not right and if their work life is negative, then you absolutely can't rule out the possibility of them changing their minds. Year and maybe sounding somewhere else you know the NBA rules are when you have a superstar a year away from free agency YOU'RE GONNA probably have to take those phone calls from other teams if you're not getting assurances and promises from those players that they're not going anywhere. So they've got a lot of questions to have answered and it's going to be painful for them to watch this Lakers nuggets series knowing how close they came.