By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoosinsports.com
The Clippers, like most teams in the league, have had an emotional and interesting week. Having begun the week with their matchup against the top-seeded Lakers being postponed, after the news broke of the untimely death of 5-time NBA Champion and Laker legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, Jan. 26. In the next few games would face some team fighting for their playoffs live at this point the season.
As you may have imagined this news of Kobe’s passing hit the league. This is evident when you hear coaches, current and formers players from Portland Trailblazers Carmelo Anthony, Miami Heat Dwayne Wade to New Orleans Pelican Zion Williamson collect their thoughts and emotions on Kobe’s untimely passing. Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers struggled to find the words in his Pre-Game press conference prior to their game with Orlando Magic.
Kobe Bryant’s legacy will certainly live on through the current players in the NBA, as many of the current NBA player’s formative years were groomed by the legendary Kobe Bryant career. They looked on as he earned 18 All-Star appearances, 2 Scoring Championships, 5 League Championships while playing 20 years for the Los Angeles Lakers. Basketball fans from all around the southland converged on LA Live, just outside the Staples Center to pay tribute to their fallen hero.
In January we got a chance to hear a few select players and Head Coach Doc Rivers share their thoughts on the recent tragedy;
Kawhi Leonard shares what part of Kobe Bryant’s mindset will stay with him in his own words
Paul George talks about his takeaways from his relationship with Kobe Bryant on January 29
Doc Rivers shares his thoughts on how Kobe Bryant should be remembered
Because of the postponed games, the Clippers had a few days off before returning to the court to finished out January. In the video, you can hear the Clippers speak on their reverence for Kobe Bryant, before they welcome in desperate Sacramento Kings who have only won 3 of their last 10 games.
Though Kawhi was a late scratch for this game, De’ Aaron Fox took his opportunity to go off for a game-high and career-high 34 points and 8 assists, Handing the Clippers their 15th loss of the season.
The Clippers responded to the loss by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in an afternoon game at Staples Center, which saw Kawhi Leonard extend his 30-point scoring streak to 9 games, that he’s played in. Coincidentally, on that same night, he was scheduled to have his Jersey Retirement Ceremony from San Diego St. University. This kind gesture, which totally refutes the recent article that there is animosity looming in the locker room, many of his teammates tied to surprise him for this ceremony, though a rookie apparently let him in on the secret.
Kawhi Leonard’s former team, the San Antonio Spurs, came into Staples Center while being their Rodeo road trip, just out of the playoffs hunt with 5-5 record in their last 10 games. Feeling a sense of urgency, the Spurs quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead against the Clippers. though the Clippers did finish
the games with 5 players with double-digit scoring, the Spurs did snap Kawhi Leonard 30-point scoring binge.
After welcoming the Miami Heat, who have a 34-15 record and are currently 4th in the Eastern Conference, into Staples Center on Wednesday night. The Clippers, 2-1 this past week, will go on a 4 games road trip of their own. They will go on the NBA All-Star Game break before coming back to face the Kinga and Grizzlies on February 22nd and 24th respectively.
The Clippers have played less than 10 games this season with their full complement of players. Fans are just now able to get a glimpse of who this team can be and what they can evolve into. Even without the continuity, it will take to play deep into the playoffs as expected, the Clippers currently have the 2nd best record in the Western Conference and the 4th most wins in the league thus far this season.
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