LOS ANGELES – He’s in his 18th full season and with his third franchise, Doc Rivers approaching 1,500 games coached.
Coincidentally enough, his Clippers are nearing that same number of injuries – just this week.
Or at least it seems that way, Rivers confirming before his team faced Golden State that he never has had, in the same season, so many bad breaks. And tears. And contusions.
Then, not even 10 minutes into the game Saturday, Blake Griffin spent several minutes stretched out on the floor after taking a JaVale McGee elbow to the head.
A short time later, the Clippers confirmed what had appeared obvious, that their best player and cornerstone suffered a concussion, and, whether or not you care an ounce about this team, let’s all hope Griffin’s symptoms don’t linger.
“I just want fighters right now,” Rivers said after his pocked roster, naturally, failed to keep pace with the NBA’s swiftest offense, losing 121-105. “That’s what we’re going to have to have.”
Don’t worry, Doc. This is a team of fighters, the Clippers continuing to show the other NBA team in town — the one more celebrated and beloved – how to respond to yet another knockout blow.
This season has been brutally cruel to this franchise, and it started early, remember? The Clippers’ significant personnel losses began in the summer, when Chris Paul begged out.
Since then, they’ve mostly been a gathering collection of sprains, microfractures and impingements. With all the failing body parts, their 17-21 record, frankly, seems almost miraculous.
If a team around here was going to give up, the Clippers would be justified in doing so. How much miserable luck can one franchise be expected to take, even a franchise with historically miserable luck?
Yet, the Lakers are the ones who have been accused of being quitters and unprofessional, and those bitting assessments came not from outside critics but from the players themselves.
A bunch of young talent struggling in a very grown-up league is so understandable that it’s predictable. It should happen. Why are the Lakers so inconsistent as a team? Because they’re so inconsistent as players.
But is it too much to ask that they compete for 48 minutes? That they channel all that youthful energy into an effort worthy of the championship name stitched across their jerseys?
Evidently so, the players already meeting once to air their immature complaints, a soul-cleansing exercise that since has yielded absolutely zero…