This morning all of the members of the Clippers organization are dealing with a lot of pain. They were just eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Utah Jazz. In my opinion, this was a good team that was well coached by Doc Rivers, and it should have gotten to the second round.
I don’t think that anyone with any real knowledge of the NBA expected this team to win a championship. They got off to a fast start, but they could not sustain that momentum. They had the heart and the will, but not the talent.
A few years ago, fans and owners did not demand a championship team every year. For whatever reason, once you became a fan of a team, you were making a lifetime commitment. Before there was free agency in professional sports, a player might stay with one team for his entire career. Looking back, it was easier on the emotions for young fans, since your favorite player almost never got traded.
Many of today’s most devoted fans expect their favorite team to when a championship every year. However, that rarely happens, and the result is a lot of ﬁnger-pointing and blame on both the managers and the players. Some owners have the organizational skills to almost always have a winning team. In baseball, that would be the St. Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants, and the Boston Red Sox’s.
In basketball, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, are usually in the championship hunt. These teams do not always win the championship’s, but they have a good amount of talent, so they rarely have losing seasons.
It is much more difﬁcult than it used to be to build and to maintain a winning franchise. Teams have to deal with salary caps and free agency. These two issues alone can take years to correct if mistakes are made at the beginning, the problem of rebuilding a losing team is a very hazardous undertaking. Even if a team is successful in rebuilding, the process may take ﬁve years or more, which also means that they have to deal with some extremely unhappy media and fans. So, while being involved in professional sports can be very lucrative, it can also be extremely stressful.
So, now the NBA playoffs continue without any team from Los Angeles in the hunt. For many years, we just assumed that the Lakers would automatically be in the playoffs, and they usually were. They won a few consecutive championships, which resulted in them hosting a parade every year. Many of us took that for granted, since the Lakers were here, and so were we.
So while this current bunch of Clippers is better than the Lakers, they have been unable to get past the ﬁrst round of the NBA playoffs. Now, we know how the fans in other cities feel. We are disappointed, but like all great fans, we eagerly look forward to next year.
On the bright side, the Dodgers are competitive, and they are serious championship contenders. Dave Roberts seems to be the excellent manager that they were hoping to ﬁnd. They have Clayton Kershaw, who is a monumental pitching star. However, they do not have anyone who can hit 40 or 50 home runs. I was a baseball fan growing up, along with most other youngsters. Some of our greatest thrills came from watching our favorite hometown player hit a home run to win the game. That was exciting!
The Dodgers are playing well, but somehow they have managed to keep themselves from being seen by most local television viewers. It is difﬁcult to fathom how this can be. So as I began I will in this column with OUCH!