There was a stretch of time, from 2012 through 2016 (maybe 2017) when the Los Angeles Clippers looked like contenders. In Doc Rivers first four seasons coaching Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, plus J.J. Redick and the rest of a solid core, they had a top-four point differential in the league three times (and were sixth the other year). These were outstanding teams that showed so much potential.
Then never got past the second round.
Matt Barnes was on some of those Clippers teams, then later went on to the Warriors where he won a ring. Barnes was on the “Lunchtime with Roggin and Rodney” show on AM 570 LA Sports (a show featuring Los Angeles sports broadcasting legend Fred Roggin and former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete) and was honest about the downfall of that team.
“We really had one of the most talented teams that never won a championship in L.A. and I think it was our own fault. We were in our own way. Just too many egos, young acting. We thought we were going to be the Warriors right up until they won the championship. We knocked them out of the playoffs the year before they came back and won, so we had a very talented team. We just couldn’t get on the same page. It was crazy. We were all cool off the court and I was like ‘how are we cool off the court and can’t get it together on the court?’ That was our… our mental toughness was what kept us from winning championships for the Clippers.”
Why couldn’t they get it together?
“Egos. Egos. And now looking back on it from my perspective, because I was fortunate enough to go to the Warriors with a whole handful of superstars and there was no egos. Everyone left their ego… the only thing that mattered in Golden State was to win and winning the championship. If we had that mentality with the Clippers we would have won a championship.”
Nobody wins a ring in the NBA without talent, that is first and foremost. A team has to be one of the most talented in the league to have a shot. But it’s more than that — it’s about sacrifice. It’s about putting aside what is best for you to do what is best for the team. Some guys do that effortlessly — Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, others — and some guys have trouble learning that lesson.
Still others never figure it out. Those Clippers never did, and they missed their window.