The face-off fans were looking forward to in the playoffs was of the crosstown rivals. However, the LA Clippers blew a crucial 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets, and that was it. They were the title favorites throughout their run, but the Los Angeles Lakers went ahead and won the championship instead.
What a sight it would have been, a battle between Kawhi Leonard and Paul George against LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Even the Lakers’ assistant coach accepted that they were expecting and preparing for this matchup.
According to ‘The Athletic’, Phil Handy claimed that even though they were most focused on themselves, deep down they were hoping for a LA matchup.
“We were so locked into ourselves,” Handy said. “I think throughout the course of the season, it was only natural for us to have to keep an eye on the Clippers. We went through that season with that being on our mind, having to prepare for them and other teams in the playoffs. But we were definitely looking forward to that matchup in the Western Conference finals.”
Could there be a reason behind this? During the season, there was word on the street that the Clippers were the better LA team. So the desire for a matchup with the Clippers might have given the Lakers the chance to prove themselves.
On hearing rumors of the Clippers being the better team, Handy stated, “Throughout the course of the season, it’s definitely something that left a bad taste in your mouth. But at the same time, I don’t really think any of us pay attention to what outside sources have to say. It’s not the first time. ‘Bron’s been an underdog for many years, coming out of Cleveland, probably, in some instances, playing in Miami.”
Handy talked about what coach Frank’s motto was this year. He said, “And I think we just looked at it as… Frank’s message the whole year was togetherness with our team. Be a team-first team and let’s get better every day. And that was our message.”
Finally, Handy admitted that the rumors meant nothing because the Lakers won the championship and said, “LeBron obviously set the table, him and AD and Rondo. Really, it was, how can we get ourselves in the best position possible, so when the time comes, we’re ready to compete for a championship? You hear those things, but at the end of the day, we’re the ones who came home with that trophy.”
Phil is right. They are the champions and nothing can change that. The fact that they ignored the noise and focused on what truly mattered is why they are the winners instead. Can one still argue that the Clippers are better?
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