VIDEO: The Hang Time Road Trip crew with TNT’s Kenny Smith
By Sekou Smith
Los Angeles — We promised a strong finish to the Hang Time Road Trip 2 and we delivered.
The Los Angeles Clippers made sure of it.
Jamal Crawford …
Paul Pierce …
And Doc Rivers …
… helped us make sure that this California journey ended the right way.
They were honest in their assessment of where this team, a contender in every sense of the word, stands just days away from the start of the regular season. They are by no means a finished product. With so many new faces (Pierce, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, etc.) to weave into their “culture,” as Rivers put it, they’ll need more time to get the chemistry down.
They’ve got time. Even with all of the internal pressure they’ll put on themselves to live up to expectations, they still have time to sort through all of the things that any elite team has to deal with when it’s been tweaked.
Rivers pointed out that the difference in this case is that the Clippers didn’t tweak their core, keeping DeAndre Jordan in the fold helped them avoid having to do so.
It remains to be seen if they’ve done enough to lift themselves above a crowded field in the Western Conference playoff. We don’t know what sort of luck (sorry Draymond Green, we’ll just call it “good fortune” or whatever you want to call it) is in store, or if there is any, come playoff time. And you never know if you can keep everyone healthy.
You also have to convince everyone to sacrifice for the greater good, something Crawford and Pierce know all about at this stage of their careers (they are working on a combined 34 years of service) and something Rivers knows extremely well, having guided Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and the Big 3 Celtics to a title in 2008.
The same sort of sacrifices made by their rivals up Oakland made to put themselves in a position to earn their Larry O’Brien Trophy in June. (And yes, the fire that fuels this rivalry burns endlessly in both directions. Rivers didn’t mince his words when discussing his recent comments about the Warriors having some good fortune on their side last season.)
Shared sacrifice is the theme that came up repeatedly during our visit with Doc and the Clippers.
Does this bunch have it in them?
Time will tell.
Don’t forget to tune in Friday Oct. 23 for the premier of The Hang Time Road Trip 2 at 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
VIDEO: Actor/comedian/author Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio anyone) joins The Hang Time Road Trip crew