Blake Griffin and JJ Reddick spent four years together in Lob City. The Clippers were loaded with superstars, and many expected them to at least make the Finals. But unfortunately, the Clips underachieved for various reasons. It's no secret that there was no love lost between Blake and Chris Paul - The Point God is not an easy guy to be around. Still, Griffin and Reddick agreed something else may have been the most significant factor for the collapse.
Lack of mental toughness
As Sideline Sources covered, both Blake and JJ agreed their best title window was in 2014. Clippers had Chris Paul, Blake, DeAndre, JJ, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Darren Collison, and good old Hedo Turkoglu ready to go all the way. Unfortunately, that team never reached the Finals despite the promise, hype, and potential of Lob City.
“I kind of agree with Matt on the mental toughness thing like there were some things that happened in those playoff runs in '14 and '15 they were just like a little bit of a breakdown which is shocking considering what we had to go through in the first round and '14 with the Golden State series and having to deal with the Sterling stuff. I mean you know there's remember like going I think it was that you know when we were at Oklahoma City for game five and you know we were up and then we just tricked off that lead. Like our mental toughness needed to be better than that.”
Blake Griffin, The Old Man and The Three
It was a rollercoaster ride for the team at that time. They were able to beat the Golden State Warriors before Steph Curry went nuclear in the following years. The Clippers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and emotions from the Warriors series took over. The team was also embroiled in a controversy after team owner Donald Sterling’s leaked audio revealed racists remarks. A lot of people expected the Clips to boycott the Playoffs altogether - it was a lot to deal with.
Will the Clippers ever win a title?
The Clippers now are a different team compared to the Lob City era. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have all the potential and talent to take the team to the promised land. But there are a lot of factors for a team to win all the way. Injuries happen all the time, and it strikes in the most crucial times of the playoffs - Kawhi's knee injury being the latest example. Another is mental toughness and how the team deals with adversities such as injuries and off-the-court drama.
This will be a resetting year for the Clippers, as many expect Kawhi to take a conservative approach with his rehab and miss the entire season. But with both Leonard and George under contract, the Clippers will be among the favorites from '22/'23 on.
BG and Reddick deserve kudos for being open and honest and admitting they lacked mental toughness at that time. It may have helped that they are talking about it now after years have passed, but what happened to the Clippers should serve notice to other super teams - talent and skill alone are not enough.