Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were officially introduced as Clippers on Tuesday and, no, Steve Ballmer did not contain himself.
Some highlights from the press conference (a sentence that illustrates how deep into the offseason we are):
Kawhi wearing a shirt that could have been stocked at Eblens in Twin Cities Plaza in 2011.
George saying his departure from Oklahoma City was “mutual,” a premise that OKC general manager Sam Presti disagreed with.
Kawhi saying, “I want to thank the Toronto Raptors fans. I don’t have social media so I can’t put out a paragraph or whatever.”
Plus, there was genuine optimism and buzz, which is fair, because the Clippers are among the two or three teams most likely to win the NBA title next season.
For fans who still remember flip phones, the Clippers as the confident and self-assured foil to the Lakers feels like a bizarro world.
The Clippers are in their third iteration; they started as the Buffalo Braves in 1970; then moved to San Diego and adopted their current name in 1978; then moved to L.A. in 1984.
The Clippers have never advanced to the conference finals. The Pelicans and the Bobcats/Hornets are the only others who haven't done so.
The Clippers have made the playoffs only 14 times in 49 seasons, and have won four playoff series ever. In that same span, the Lakers have made the playoffs 39 times and have won 11 titles.
The Clippers, in San Diego, opened up the check book for crippled Bill Walton, who played 102 games for his hometown team in five seasons.
The Clippers (then the Braves) fired Jack Ramsey after three seasons in Buffalo, then watched him become a legendary coach with the ‘77 and ‘78 Trail Blazers.
The Clippers were owned by the racist Donald Sterling for 33 years.
The Clippers’ “best player” for a long stretch of the 2000s was Corey Maggette, whose empty stats on bad teams inspired the nickname “Bad Porn.”
The Clippers were up 3-1 on the Rockets in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals, and lost three straight games, including a Game 6 at home up 18 points in the third quarter, with Josh Smith and Corey Brewer going off while James Harden sat on the bench.
We could keep going, but you get the point. The Clippers and their fans have waited long enough for a true title contender.
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