Doc Rivers: ‘Lob City’ Clippers lacked urgency
Two years after the “Lob City” version of the Los Angeles Clippers came to an end, the team ushered in a new era of basketball.
On Wednesday, the Clippers officially introduced Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — their two huge offseason acquisitions. Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP, while George was a finalist for both league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. Between the two stars and the rest of the Clippers’ strong supporting cast, the franchise is favored to win a championship arguably for the first time ever.
The Clippers spent most of their time in LA as a miserable joke of a franchise under former owner Donald Sterling. Things finally turned when the team drafted Blake Griffin in 2009 and acquired Chris Paul in a trade two years later. The team posted a winning percentage over .600 and made the playoffs six straight years, though they failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs. Sometimes they had tough matchups, other times they underachieved, and sometimes they were hit with inopportune injuries.
Doc Rivers, who has been the Clippers’ coach since the 2013-14 season, thinks there was another issue: a lack of urgency.
“I never felt like I could get that group [the Lob City group] to understand that this was their time. The urgency of it,” Rivers said in an article published by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Wednesday. “When we beat Golden State [in the 2013-14 playoffs], that following year, Golden State decided, this was their time. I don’t think we decided that. We just showed up and wanted to try to win. But that’s not enough.”
Rivers added that players say they want to win, but not many are actually willing to sacrifice in the way that is necessary to facilitate winning, the way his 2008 Boston Celtics did.
“Sometimes you have to be at the right time of a player’s life for them to want to win,” Rivers told Shelburne. “Everyone says they want to win. It’s B.S. Most people want to win as long as they can do whatever they want to do. Everything has to be perfect for them. But you have to sacrifice something to win.”
Misfortune seemed like it hit the Clippers hard at times in the postseason, but Rivers knows better than anyone what it takes to win and what was lacking with his team. If he says there was a lack of urgency with the Lob City squad, he’s probably right.
Interestingly, breaking up the Lob City team helped turned the Clippers into what they are today. They got Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams for Chris Paul. All three players remain key pieces on the team. They got Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and a first-round pick in return for Blake Griffin. They turned that into Landry Shamet, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and two future first-round picks, which they used to acquire George in a trade with the Thunder.
Lob City didn’t get where they wanted to, but the Clippers have transitioned masterfully and are well set up to advance beyond where Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were able to.