Many Christmases ago, I argued with another fan about the deficiencies of the team. As I rained blows upon him, I realized that there had to be another way! So I searched until I found a holiday that, instead of trying to mask the quarreling and the spite of the holidays, embraced the true antipathy of this time of year: Festivus. A time when you can tell everyone around you how they’ve disappointed you over the past year, a time when you don’t have to be distracted by tinsel on a tree, a time when you can celebrate the petty miracles of life, a time when disagreement over the running of your particular sports franchise can gloriously lead to blows instead of being a shameful fight with gravy in front of your horrified grandmother and mother. It’s a time for the rest of us! Festivus!
Festivus starts with the Airings of Grievances, so:
I got a lot of problems with you people! Now you’re all going to hear about it.
You, Sterling. My fellow ClipperBlog commenters tell me that your team stinks! You couldn’t win a game with a roster full of talented young players. And you couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe… I lost my train of thought…
But seriously, I have a bone to pick with VDN. I think he’s done a couple things well, notably to continue to motivate the team despite the 1-13 start that all but wiped them out of playoff contention and he has handled Baron as well as possible. VDN has been even-handed in his criticism and his support for Baron, which is critical to his credibility on the team. Too easy on him and the rest of the players sour, too hard and Baron gets petulant. So far, it’s been handled adeptly in this extremely difficult time. But there is one thing that continues to confound me, the lack of play for Al-Farouq Aminu.
If Farouq had superior players ahead of him, I would completely understand. Or even if Ryan Gomes was flourishing in his role with the Clips, but that hasn’t been the case.
I thought he’d get more minutes now, especially with Rhino, Cook and Kaman out, because that would demand minutes at the 4, his position in college. I don’t think it’s out of the question to run him alongside either Blake or DeAndre, especially against teams like the Wolves or the Rockets that aren’t particularly big. And yet, he gets 7 minutes to Diogu’s 14, to Gomes 23 and Rasual’s 25. Diogu was a guy that couldn’t even make a roster at the beginning of the season and now he’s even getting more minutes than Aminu?
Obviously Aminu has young problems to work through, his defense is still not quite there (although I though the played good man on man against the hobbled Brandon Roy), but Gomes, Rasual and Diogu aren’t defensive stoppers either. Aminu at least has the ability to overcome this weakness and be a very good defensive player. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be elite, but he’s the type of small forward (and occasionally power forward) that can rebound well, block shots and he gets his hand on steals. I know that his consistency lacks, but he’s not going to develop consistency with inconsistent minutes. Give him a structured role, coach him, because he needs it more than the other young guys. Blake is a coach’s gift, Bledsoe seems to have that quiet resiliency that will allow him to progress in spite of his errors, but Aminu’s production wavers because he needs guidance.
Even still, he offers more than Gomes and Rasual.
VDN, you know he has the highest three point shooting percentage on the team right (other than Blake’s 50 percent on 2 for 4 shooting for the season)? You know that the two other players that play his position, Rasual and Gomes, shoot 33.1 and 33.8 percent from three, roughly 15 percentage points lower each. That’s 1 more three per 7 attempts, and this team needs spacing.
Even the PERs, sure a flawed stat, show that Aminu is better than other small forwards on the team. He’s has a middling 11.1 PER but Gomes and Rasual have 9.5 and 7.6 PERs respectively. Gomes is trending upwards, and still warrants minutes, but give Aminu some regular run. The only explanation that I can muster for his disappearance in the rotation, and it’s a good one but it’s still only one, is that Aminu turns the ball over way more than Rasual and Gomes (Aminu has a 20 percent turnover rate compared to 7.6 and 9.3 respectively for Rasual and Gomes). The team does have a turnover problem, but Aminu will have a harder time improving if he’s coming into games when he doesn’t know the unit or when he’s cold. He does enough good to warrant some burn (remember his game in New Orleans? 20 and 8. Even against the Wolves he went for 9 and 7 in 14 minutes!), just play him. Please. He’s part of the future and he should be part of the present.
Jordan Heimer, take it away:
Clipper blogging is not always as easy as we professional bloggers make it appear. Games must be watched, story lines generated, prose edited. And I’m new at this. I can’t just sit down and make something coherent appear on the page without some thought, or sometimes — as in last night’s Rockets recap — at all. But I didn’t need to think long when Breene asked for a submission for the Festivus Airing of Clipper Grievances. In fact, three words came immediately to mind: Lighten Up Haters.
Very few sports franchises can be said to be unequivocally “about” something. The Yankees and the Lakers are about the arrogance of champions. The Cubs, lovable losing. For most of the last century, the Red Sox were about drinking to forget; now they’re about pink baseball caps. The Clippers are synonymous with ineptitude; not merely losing, but hopeless losing. The Clippers are the real life Washington Generals. They are the ‘62 Mets, the hapless ‘76 Bucs… except every year. “It’s the Clippers” is short hand for all the freak injuries, terrible ownership, bungling management, and embarrassing play that has defined the Clippers, almost without interruption, in their 27 years in Los Angeles. If you are a Clippers fan either you believe, like Jimmy Stewart, that lost causes are the only causes worth fighting or you just love the feeling of being gut-punched 50 to 60 some odd times a year.
Because here we are. Fans of the lost cause. It’s not like we don’t have options — we watch our team play beneath a ceiling clogged with Laker championship banners and retired jerseys — but we choose the Clippers anyway. We slog through it with a sense that one day it will all be worth it, that all the suffering will make the turnaround that much sweeter.
Unfortunately, all you need to do is read a few comments or listen to Clippertalk on 980 to know this ain’t the year we turn it around. This is another terrible Clippers season. From what I hear, our GM is terrible, and our coach needs to be fired. We have some bearded point guard who is LITERALLY RUINING our rookies, giving them nuggies in the locker room, which evidently has been terrible for their confidence. And our owner is Satan. And everyone knows you can’t win a championship with Satan as your owner.
Um, really? What’s up, Haters?
This is THE MOST EXCITING CLIPPER TEAM IN HISTORY. And it’s not even close. A subjective top 5 Los Angeles Clippers All-Time list might looks like: Danny Manning, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Ron Harper, and World B. Free in some order. By the time their restricted free-agency ends (in other words, in the years they are almost guaranteed to be Clippers no matter what) Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin will top that list. Easily. Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe could be somewhere in the mix as well. Easily. We have a set of building blocks that the 2008 Thunder would envy. Certainly, it is a collection of talent unique in the tortured history of the franchise. Blake Griffin has already played better than the most starry-eyed fanboy (yes, I mean Mike Smith) could have predicted. The most exciting player in the NBA is a Clipper. Imagine this is 2007, and Shuan Livingston’s knee just exploded. Or it’s 1997, and Charles Smith is leading the Clippers to 17 wins inside a hockey arena. Imagine it’s two years ago, and Baron Davis and Mike Dunleavy are staring each other down during time outs. Now watch last night’s Rockets game again before you erase the DVR. There are two dreams in the NBA: Field a championship team, or have a plan for one. We’ve never sniffed either before this year.
So Lighten Up Haters! And I mean regarding Baron as well. Yes, he takes bad shots. Terrible shots. Very, very bad shots. OK. Yes. But you have to have blinders on not to see that Baron is bringing more to the table than he’s taking off it. Eric Bledsoe Has Heart and this is His Team In The Future and I love it all… specifically, coming off the bench. We have a lot of young talent and Baron brings it all together. His penetration and court vision have opened the offense up in the half court. All of a sudden, Ryan Gomes is open all the time. DeAndre Jordan is slamming home four jams a game. Blake’s dunk rate has actually gone UP. And aren’t we all kinda happy about this? I mean, considering Baron was given a terrible, very bad, no good, horrible, untradable contract and will, pretty much, be playing point guard for the foreseeable future, aren’t we happy that he makes the team better? Great. Me too.
Whew. It feels good to get this off my chest. In summary – Haters: Lighten Up. There may come a time to panic. Someone could get injured. A water main may explode directly into the team bus. But right now, not even the Bogeyman of Sterling Plaza can screw this up. For once we have something to enjoy. Enjoy it.
Thanks Jordan, now since you can’t see Jordan and I lift 100 pounds, right over our heads. I’ll give you some of the Clipper Feats of Strength for the year.
Every year around this time, small unheralded miracles occur. And there is reason. It’s the Festivus spirit, so celebrate the Clippers finished 3 game winning streak, celebrate Ike Diogu’s signing. They’re Festivus Miracles.
Hopefully, you’ve gotten your Festivus Poles out of the crawl space, proud of its simplicity and high strength to weight ratio, and you’re letting everyone know just how they’ve let you down over the past year. I smell a very Happy Festivus this year! It’s our tradition!