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Clippers succeed thanks to him and really crummy Lakers

The Clippers win their first division title by feasting on the Lakers, who had supposedly assembled a dream team. Simers will take the assist for egging on the team to get back on track.

April 07, 2013|T.J. Simers
  • Clippers forward Caron Butler goes above Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to try to snag a rebound in the game Sunday afternoon.
Clippers forward Caron Butler goes above Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to try… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

I don't want to take all of the credit for bringing the Clippers together; like Chris Paul, I'm more interested in the assist.

But as soon as I got on the guys for losing sight of the finish line, they won a division title.

You can look it up — that's never happened here before.

And a lot of sportswriters, players, coaches and administrators have tried over the decades to make winners out of the Clippers only to fail.

I wrote about the immaturity of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin and problems with Paul that have threatened to sidetrack my favorite team in town, no one more of a Clippers honk than Page 2.

Shoot, I went to Memphis with the Clippers a year ago and no one goes to such a rathole unless it's to be there for their family.

But then you know what it's like raising children. You can't be their friends. Sometimes you have to lower the boom, and toss in a little discipline even when it might hurt you more than them.

So I had to spank the Clippers before we could all come together Sunday and beat the Lakers.

"I don't like Chris," shouted Jordan in the crowded Clippers locker room after the win to demonstrate he's no longer immature.

"I don't care," yelled Paul in return, a good time had by all as Jordan started yelling he also doesn't like Griffin.

Bringing fun to a locker room is just what Page 2 does.

And just as I have preached to the guys all year, if you're going to be successful, you have to feast on the really crummy teams to pad your record.

Fortunately, the Clippers got to play the Lakers four times this season, which is like having the Houston Astros on your schedule. And they swept them, of course.

Now I know all about Al Michaels and some kind of hockey event in the Olympics. But anyone can win one game.

Calling it a miracle is probably a bit much. But has there been any bigger miracle in sports than the woebegone Clippers winning their first division title in the very same season the Lakers assembled a dream team and were picked to win it all?

What it's like now for the Lakers to look down that Staples Center hallway and wonder whether they will ever measure up to the best team in town?

But credit goes to the gutty little Lakers for giving it everything they had Sunday, more than 47 minutes from Kobe Bryant to come within 14 points of the Clippers.

Everyone appreciates an underdog giving it his all.

On a bright note, Mike D'Antoni became the first Lakers coach to witness the Clippers' winning a Pacific Division title. The way he has coached this season, it's not really a surprise.

Meeting with the media before the game, which is known now as D'Antoni's comedy hour, he told everyone he has the Lakers ranked as one of the top four teams in the conference.

I remember when he used to say things like that earlier in the season and blamed it on medication he was taking after knee surgery.

He said the same thing after the game, but the Lakers are now 2-12 against the top four in the West, so what a funny guy.

"I truly believe we're as good as anyone on a given night," D'Antoni said. Unfortunately, the NBA asked the Lakers to play in the afternoon against the Clippers.

I'm not sure the Lakers are capable of playing better than they did Sunday, and so I asked D'Antoni, doesn't this prove they aren't as good as the top four in the West?

"You can make that case," said D'Antoni, and I just did. "But we believe in the locker room we can beat anyone."

I remember when the Clippers were just as delusional and winning only something like 20 or so games a season. Good for the Lakers they think they are better than their record, but it's the Clippers who suddenly looked as if they are in playoff form.

And now we have to keep winning so we don't have to go to Memphis, or if we do, at least it would be for one fewer game because we would have the home-court advantage.

As for the Lakers' dream team, I believe they are currently in third place in the Pacific Division.

THE MORE I hear about UCLA basketball Coach Steve Alford from folks elsewhere, the more troubling the hire.

It is too soon to separate fact from fiction, but it raises questions about the judgment of Athletic Director Dan Guerrero.

I had forgotten the story about John Wooden, who had decided to take the Minnesota job but wanted a change in assistant coaches before accepting it.

He gave Minnesota a specific time to call, but a snowstorm kept a Minnesota official from making the call.

UCLA called and Wooden accepted the job. A short time later, a Minnesota official reached Wooden, but Wooden said he had already given his word to UCLA.

In the name of Wooden, how does Guerrero justify going after Alford while knowing Alford had given his word to New Mexico in accepting a 10-year extension?

What does that say about Guerrero?

Or, as Wooden once put it: "It isn't what you do, but how you do it."

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