Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Once again, Chris Paul left a huge imprint on the game, driving to the basket at will and finding teammates whether they were across the hardwood or above the rim. The 23 points on 8 of 15 shooting may not have been as prolific as his scoring outburst on Saturday, but many of his 12 assists ended in baskets that are likely to make the highlight reel.
That was … a carnival-like funhouse: The Clippers didn’t appear to have their foot on the gas for all 48 minutes, but there was plenty going on around the game to distract. The team unveiled a new mascot, Chuck the Condor, which got plenty of cheers inside the arena and a healthy dose of snark around the Twitterverse. Steve Ballmer dunked off a trampoline at halftime. And if that wasn’t enough, a fan sunk a halfcourt shot to win a Jeep.
X factor: DeAndre Jordan finished the night without a single free throw attempt in the contest for the first and only time this season. To find the last game where this happened, one would have to go back to last season on March 20 against the Washington Wizards.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— Chuck The Condor (@ChuckTheCondor) March 1, 2016
Steve Ballmer DUNK ALERT!!!
The @LAClippers owner caught some SERIOUS air tonight!
— FOX Sports: Hoops (@HoopsonFOX) March 1, 2016
Doc Rivers on Chuck the Condor: "It’s just like us: It used to be extinct and now it’s coming back."
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) March 1, 2016
Check Your Messages
Chris Paul could have been a pro quarterback. I’m convinced. His precision, accuracy, decision-making, and leadership is the kind of stuff you see in elite passers in football. Turns out, Paul played quarterback at West Forsyth High School.
A few games ago, I remarked how the Clippers offense was sometimes like watching the New England Patriots with Tom Brady at the controls. The end of this game against the Nets has me bringing this back. Football CP3 closed this one out.
For those unfamiliar with Tom Brady – his playing style is such where he takes extreme care of the football (unlike turnover-prone counterpart Peyton Manning) while feasting on mostly short-to-intermediate routes between the numbers; Brady is less proficient throwing the deep ball over the last five years. When you see Brady throwing TD passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski, you often see Brady take advantage of Gronk’s catch radius, especially off of play action.
Paul’s “Gronk” has been DeAndre Jordan, and the Clippers ran the same damn screen-and-roll (play) action four times in the last three minutes of this game. Three of those plays resulted in Paul catching an off-balance Brooklyn defense sucked into the paint but somehow failing to cover Jordan coasting to the rim like that bird that the Clippers introduced tonight.
As entertaining as dunks are, I was just drawn into the movement Paul and the offense made to get Jordan easy targets repeatedly. Paul to Jordan was like Brady and Gronk playing catch – and like Brady, Paul made it look way too simple.
Where. Do. I. Start?
Look. For years, fans, basketball wonks, paid commentators, coaches, and bums washing windows off the 10 freeway have wondered: Why don’t the Los Angeles Clippers have a mascot? Tonight, it appears the heavens opened, the earth shook, the seas rose, and the basketball gods delivered us a compelling, nigh-incontrovertible answer.
A condor. A. Con. Door. You know what? I’m going to provide here a short list of birds that are at least marine birds, and therefore would fit the nautical theme of the Clippers better. We have: gulls, skuas, grebes, sea ducks, cormorants, fulmars, petrels, penguins, boobies, and loons. Oh, and lest I forget, albatrosses. So… the whole of maritime appropriate Sphenisciformes and Procellariiformes available to the Clippers’ marketing department, and they pick… a vulture.
I can only assume there was some intended reference to the California Condor, however I can only think that a bare minimum of research was done to settle on a critically endangered scavenger bird. The jokes practically write themselves. Here’s the thing: apart from this scant connection to the home state of the team (which, let’s not ignore, also houses no less than three other NBA teams), the condor isn’t even the most impressive bird that could have been chosen. It actually comes in second in wingspan to the wandering albatross – a seabird which has the longest wingspan of all living, flighted birds.
Oh, and now that I’ve finally seen the thing. It is objectively awful. Not quite as atrocious as the Pelicans’ initial attempt… but at least that monstrosity was on brand. This thing is… embarrassing. About the only good thing I can say is that Clippers fans have been the laughingstock of the league in the past; we shall overcome.
In Defense of Condors
Somehow, a madcap combination of Toucan Sam and one of the vulture guards from Disney’s Robin Hood was given a pair of oversized Chuck Taylors, then unveiled itself today as the Clippers new mascot, Chuck the Condor. Twitter, land of snark and cynics galore, descended upon the visage of this new mascot, as they found it to be a hoot. Unlike Poochie the Dog, however, this caricature won’t soon be dying on a return to its home planet.
Is it cool? Who cares! Like a ginger-bearded French-Canadian that does double duty for a hockey team and a now-defunct baseball team was made to look cool? It wasn’t, and it’s still fantastic. And seriously, what screams, “Ryan Gosling in Drive ain’t got nothing on this!” in the image below?
But beyond the look of the mascot itself, a condor turns out to be a very appropriate bird to represent this team. They are graceful in flight, like Blake Griffin flying through the paint for the finish. They glide through the air thanks to having the longest wingspans of any North American bird, much like DeAndre Jordan floating towards the basket to finish a perfectly placed lob pass. They effortlessly launch themselves off high perches, much like J.J. Redick launches himself through screens. They’re even competitive amongst their peers, and few players hate losing more than Chris Paul.
In Yokut mythology, it even has been said to have eaten the moon and caused eclipses with its massive wings. And while its wings didn’t block out the lights inside Staples Center this evening, it managed to get a billionaire to dunk a ball off a trampoline for millions — a feat plenty majestic in its own right.