|Owen and Daddy at the Clippers vs. Warriors Game Saturday|
In the mid-2000's the Warriors signed Jason Richardson and Baron Davis and quickly became a modern day incarnation of Showtime. Baron Davis is one of my favorite Pac-10 point guards of all time---a long distinguished list that includes Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and most recently, Isaiah Thomas (no, not that Isaiah Thomas. This Isaiah Thomas). And Jason Richardson didn't just play above the rim. He built a house up there where he lived year-round. Check 'em out:
This high-wire backcourt act, combined with my love of underdogs sealed the deal. I was a Warriors fan. The first NBA basketball game that I ever attended was the Warriors vs. Clippers. Talk about underdogs!
More recently, the Warriors were host to a new backcourt duo: Steph Curry and Monta Ellis (pronounced mon-TAY). This is the backcourt that Owen and Marcus started with in their love of NBA basketball. Owen liked to think of himself as Monta and Marcus, with his tall, lanky form and exceptionally fair skin, was Steph Curry. At least once a week they like to watch the following video, with Owen saying "Marcus, that's you! I passed it to you. Assist!" and Marcus replying with, "That was me?!"
But, like all good things involving the Warriors, this backcourt duo had to come to an end. Admittedly, the Warriors simply didn't have the front court to make a serious playoff run, so they traded Monta to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut. And as with all underdogs, disaster quickly struck. Andrew broke his ankle promptly after arriving in Oakland, and Steph Curry has been battling ankle injuries all season. This is how it goes with NBA basketball in the East Bay...
Since arriving in SoCal, I have started a new love affair with a new underdog team: The LA Clippers. The Clips have long been the southern arm of the California NBA development league, racing with the Warriors for the first pick of the following year's draft. However, they've recently started to figure things out. First, they made their best draft move in...ever, by picking up Mr. Beast-mode, aka Blake Griffin. Griffin is a monster of a man who's primary risk of injury is hitting his head on various parts of the backboard as he violently dunks the basketball as if playing on a Nerf hoop. Blake doesn't so much dunk the ball as he throws it downward into the hoop below...while perched on the head-and-shoulder area of his defender. Watch this:
Oh, me, oh my, indeed! Holy posterization, Batman! How can you not enjoy that?! Oh, unless you're an OKC fan...
Then, they picked up DeAndre Jordan, another man-child destroyer of rims:
Yeah, dunking on one 7-footer would be too easy. Let's dunk on two, instead. Take that Pau and Andrew. Take that Lakers, there's a new team in town.
And if all that back-court talent weren't unfair enough, the Clippers picked up Chris Paul, one of the best point guards of all time, who is currently at the peak of his game:
The second coming of Tim Hardaway! (Sorry, that's actually a bit of an insult to Paul, IMO...)
All of this leads up to my and Owen's adventure yesterday. A postdoc in my group has a neighbor with season passes to the Clippers games, and he mentioned he could procure tickets from time to time. So I requested tickets for one of the final 10 games of the season. What did we end up with? Clippers vs. Warriors!
So Owen and I drove to downtown LA, waited in line at the entrance among throngs of Blake Griffin jerseys and located our seats in the third level, front row, corner of the court. Great seats, great game! But before finding our seats, I bought Owen a jersey, which were miraculously on sale, 33% off! I was extremely proud when Owen eschewed the Griffin #32 jerseys in favor of a #3 Chris Paul, size S.
Sadly, Marcus Jo...er...Stephen Curry was injured. As was David Lee. But micro-guard and former Pac-10 all star Nate Robinson had a huge night, putting up 28 points in a losing effort. The effort was losing because Chris Paul also put up 28 points and dropped 12 dimes in a masterful performance. Owen really enjoyed the detailed stats screen, where he was able to easily track who was on pace for a double-double, who was in foul trouble, etc. Owen is a real stats man. I, on the other hand, jumped out of my seat and pumped my fist with each Clipper 3-pointer and monstrous, fast-break dunk. The highlight of the afternoon for me was Blake Griffin's fast-break alley-oop assist to DeAndre Jordan. Owen's highlights included Chris Paul's double-double and a box of popcorn. I also got a lump in my throat when Owen, midway through the third quarter sheepishly asked, "Um...Daddy? Do I get to keep this jersey?" Yes, son. It's yours!
The Clippers are currently in fourth place in the West, just a game behind the Lakers. Owen and I are crossing our fingers for a 3-seed going into the playoffs, which would pit them against Dallas, rather than their current projected matchup against the Grizzlies. We both agree that they are a better match against the aging Mavs than against the young, run-and-gun Griz. But either way, I'm looking forward to the inevitable matchup against OKC if/when the Clips advance.