Well it might be a good time to take our emotional temperature….
I’m the eternal Clippers optimist, I’ve ridden with this team since their first day at the Sports Arena in 1984, so I don’t scare very easily. I even analyzed the back to back overtime losses last week as wins in the grand scheme of things (everyone looks energized, Westbrook looks happy for the first time in two years, these are close/strong/capable games against good teams, this looks like a version of the team we through it could be, blah blah blah). So on Tuesday night at the Staples Center (yeah, never calling it Crypto, sorry), I happily settled in for the game with my family, buoyed by the last minute news that Ivica Zubac would be back in the lineup and the team is once again injury-free.
Truth be told, my optimism was short lived. It was a good start, not everyone doing everything perfectly, but business appeared to be getting handled. And then in what seemed to be another inevitable collapse, the wheels fell off against a Timberwolves team that really just isn’t that good. Also, side note, I had forgotten that Austin Rivers even existed until he checked in briefly and not too effectively for Minnesota.
I don’t need to analyze every detail of what went wrong. We all saw it. Every wannabe coach on social media is inevitably throwing blame at Ty Lue, at Marcus Morris, at what seemed to be everyone in a Clippers uniform having 30 turnovers and dishing the ball at least as often to a fan in the crowd or a Timberwolf as to a teammate. I have opinions too, principally that it’s a mistake to start Marcus Morris over Terance Mann. But I’m not an NBA coach and I don’t for one minute imagine that I know how to do the job better than Ty Lue can or that he is not trying to figure out how to make this work.
One thing I noticed last night through my grimaces and frustration was that there appeared to be a certain heaviness during parts of the game, like the bounce was missing from some of the players’ steps, or the energy in their movements was a tiny bit off. I maintain my optimism, but in the basketball part of my life, I’m feeling a little like what I think I saw in the players last night—a little less bouncy, a certain heaviness that is hard to put words to. I’m practicing some self-care by avoiding Twitter for a day or two, letting everyone calm down and finding some of that spring in my step too.
So I have learned a few things in all these years of being a fan. First, and this was a big one for me, we are not defined by whether the Clippers win a game or lose a game. We diehards love this team, but we are good people regardless of what the standings are today. Sometimes it feels challenging to separate those things. We watch the game because it’s fun, and because we have developed a supportive community around Clippers basketball, and that is important to remember.
Second, three losses are just a complication, not a catastrophe. Complications happen, we address them and get better from them. Not every setback is a catastrophe. The ridiculously talented players and coaching staff have not forgotten how to play basketball and win games. (And I’m saying this as much to remind myself as to remind whoever may be reading this.)
And third, it’s time to move on to the next one. One thing that is certain about the NBA schedule, and honestly about life in general, is that we can’t change what has already happened, especially since there is going to be a new opportunity right in front of us before you know it. The Clippers are certainly moving on to prepare for Sacramento and Golden State this week. And we should too. It’s all supposed to be fun, so let’s allow it to be.