Before the NBA went on hiatus, the Los Angeles Clippers were most people’s favorites for winning the title. The additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, along with proven veterans, talented young prospects, and a title-winning coach, gave the Clippers a realistic shot at winning the championship, a chance that many people believe Clippers had from 2012-2017. During that time, the Lob City Clippers, led by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan were one of the best teams in the league, and indeed were one of the most fun to watch. However, they never really lived up to the hype and were never able to pass the second round of the playoffs.
After the split of the big 3, we began to get intel about dysfunctions in Clippers’ locker room. Doc Rivers, who won a championship in the NBA and knew what the traits that team has to have for such an accomplishment are said that he “never felt like he could get that group to understand that this was their time, the urgency of it.” Matt Barnes, who was once also a part of that Clippers team, said that players had ego issues
“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 mental toughness was what kept us from winning championships for the Clippers.”Matt Barnes, via Give Me Sport
Chris Paul, the leader of that Lob City group, was a guest at SHOWTIME basketball podcast, years after the split. He discussed his days with the Clippers with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. H
“It’s one of those things when you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone. I think about it at times. Blake and I had our issues here and there, and I appreciated him more after I left, especially after he started shooting 3’s.”Chris Paul, via All The Smoke
The NBA had seen many examples of talented duos that let their personalities get in the way of fulfilling their potential. Kobe had beef with Shaq, Shaq had one with Penny before joining the Lakers, Larry Johson and Alonzo Mourning split after only three years, and most recently KD and Russ who couldn’t adjust their playstyles to one another. Paul-Griffin tandem belongs to the list of underachieving NBA duos.
The relationship between Chris and Blake was a tense one. They both have huge egos, and they couldn’t manage them properly. We know about Paul’s reputation as a fierce competitor and a demanding leader. This just doesn’t sit well with all the players, and that’s why Chris has been called a bad teammate throughout his career. Glen Davis referred to Chris as a “very bad teammate, “and Kenyon Martin talked about not trusting CP, referring to him as “a politician “and explaining how, in dealing with coaches and management, it seems like “he has a hidden agenda that doesn’t include the other 14 guys.” Paul is very vocal and isn’t afraid to say stuff that you might don’t want to hear. Even Blake said that if you want to play with CP, you “have to be built for it.“
On the other side, Blake is just a different type of personality. Austin Rivers called Blake “more approachable“, and it seems like that’s how he wanted to lead. Clippers’ locker room was split by two great players who had the same goal but different approaches in achieving it. That is what held them back from making a leap from a perennial playoff team to a true contender.