Kobe Bryant says that “other team” in LA – the Clippers – are title contenders in 2013.
And Kobe made this statement before the Clippers defeated the Lakers on Friday night and then destroyed the Golden State Warriors (who are currently a playoff contender in the West) the next night.
Yes, the 27-8 Clippers look like contenders.
Of course, fans in LA can easily remember the last time this happened. That was back in …
Okay, this has never happened.
Unlike every other big market team in North America, the Clippers have never, ever, ever been a title contender. In fact, the very best season in franchise history was last season. When the 2011-12 regular season ended, the Clippers had a mark of 40-26. This mark was surpassed by seven other teams (including Kobe’s Lakers). In the post-season, the Clippers reached the Western Conference semi-finals -- where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Such a season likely left many NBA observers thinking the Clippers were a “good” team, but hardly a real title contender. Again, though, this was the best team in the history of the Clippers. For the first time in franchise history (which began in Buffalo in 1970-71), the Clippers won 60% of their games.
In 2012-13 the Clippers have moved beyond being the best team in franchise history to being one of the very best teams in the NBA. After 35 games, the Clippers have a 0.771 winning percentage; a mark that – as of Tuesday morning – currently leads the NBA.
Clearly the Clippers are better than they were last year. And that leads one to wonder… how did this worst team in NBA history become a title contender?