It almost feels like the Clippers are being euthanized for the second straight year. Much like Kevin Durant did this postseason, Paul George just ran out of gas trying to make up for what wasn’t there.
But there’s been something heavy about the Clippers ever since the summer of 2019. It tends to follow Kawhi Leonard around. We know that last year’s Clippers were a pretty miserable experience. It didn’t feel much lighter this time around.
Perhaps that’s partly due to the Clippers-ness of the whole thing. Every time they feel like they’ve cracked the code and might actually go somewhere they haven’t been before, which they did this year to be fair, it weighs on the whole thing. That’s what happens when you’re a decidedly little brother in L.A., and have been a punchline for the whole league for most of your existence. It feels like it has to work this time, or it’ll feel like it’ll never happen even more, and the darkness only gets soupier.
But it also has followed Kawhi. He came into the league with a Spurs team that had an established culture and hierarchy, and they made two Finals and won a title. But once the team was about him, it was a couple of years of whether they measured up and will he or won’t he and stories like apple time.
He was clearly Toronto’s best player for one year, but again, kind of an established team and culture, even if Nick Nurse was moving from assistant to head coach. And everyone knew he was out of there in one year, and everyone was fine with it and could go along with whatever in a limited dose.
This Clippers experience has slogged in the same way the end of San Antonio’s did, with the uncertainty over whether he’ll bolt this summer weighing on everything alongside just being the Clippers. George seemed unburdened without him around, though only for a handful of games.
To be determined, but once again, the Clippers are eliminated and just about everyone around it looks just as relieved as Paul was to make the Finals for the first time.