While everyone is focused on the Lakers and Lonzo Ball, the Clippers are quietly having themselves quite an off-season. Well, quite the 24 hours. In fact, the best 24 hours the franchise has had since they traded for Chris Paul and one of the top 5 days in Clipper history.
First there was the report from the LA Times that the Inglewood City Council will meet today to approve an exclusive negotiating agreement for a new arena for the Clippers, which would potentially be across the street from the Rams stadium. And then there’s the news that Jerry West is planning to come on board as an adviser.
So that’s a new house and a new adviser in a matter of hours. And honestly, I’m not sure what’s more important.
Let’s start with the new crib. According to reports, it would be 18 – 20,000 seats and would be “state of the art.” Of course it would. It’s Steve Freaking Ballmer. Have you ever caught his act at Clipper games? It’s the best thing in the NBA not wearing a Warriors jersey. This guy brings it, every single night. He told the LA Times a while back that when it comes to Staples, “we’re third guy in, we have third choice in dates. If you are a good businessman, you don’t come to the end of your lease and say, ‘I have no options, landlord, please take me to the woodshed and beat me.’ We’ll have options.”
And this is the option he’s looking for. And if I had to bet, I’d say it’ll be a pretty damn good option if it goes through. Does that sound like a guy who’d just slap a couple of hoops in a parking lot and call it a court? Hell, no. He’s got really big plans and really big ideas for what he wants the game day experience to be. And that’s his biggest frustration with Staples, it’s cramping his style. He didn’t drop 2 bill on a team to room with some other team. This isn’t some guy who wants to be crashing on the couch in the living room, just like he probably doesn’t love the fact that he has to cover up the Lakers banners for Clipper home games. He wants his own place, with his own suites, his own banners, and his own high-tech gadgets.
And then there’s the arrival of Jerry West. The Logo. The 2-time NBA Executive of the Year. The winner of 7 NBA titles as an executive and a consultant. A guy who’s coming from helping the Warriors build their juggernaut and returning to Los Angeles, where he was a legend as a player and an executive with the Lakers.
The guy who built the Showtime Lakers. The guy who attracted Shaq. The guy drafted Kobe Bryant. In other words, if you’re a Laker fan, it’s probably because of something that Jerry West did on the court or in the front office. And now he’ll be with the Clippers. That’s freaky. That’s a total mindbender.
How is that even possible? How is it possible for a legend like that to go across town to the Clippers? I’ll be darned if I know, but I know that I like it for the Clippers.
And not just because it’s a thumb in the Lakers eye, which it kind of is. Ripping a guy who’s been associated with the Lakers for decades is huge. What’s next? Kareem and Worthy crossing over? Magic himself abandoning the purple and gold for the red, white, and blue?
West has an incredible history and he adds credibility, which is key if they’re looking to hold onto Chris Paul. After all, West was involved in trading Monta Ellis, which opened the floor for Steph Curry, and he played a big role in shooting down a potential Klay Thompson for Kevin Love trade back in the day. I’d say that worked out pretty well, too.
Don’t let his age fool you, this guy is still motivated, still hungry. As he told SI, “I’ve told myself time and time again that I would get out of the business when I felt I had nothing to contribute. But I just don’t feel that’s the case. I don’t feel like I’m ready to stop.”
If he doesn’t feel like he’s ready to start, no wonder the Clips were asking when he could start.
So between the possibility of new digs and a new wizard, if I’m a Clipper fan, I’m celebrating like Steve Ballmer at a Microsoft event.