Jared Dudley admitted it recently: The Lakers were watching, expecting to face the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, and laughed as the Nuggets came from 3-1 down and kicked the Clippers out of the bubble.
Danny Green looked at it another way: Karma. The Clippers didn’t respect the game, so it didn’t respect them. Here is what Green said on the “Real Ones” podcast with Raja Bell and Logan Murdock.
“I think the basketball Gods will humble you if you don’t play the game the right way or do the right thing. I mean, a lot of people say speak things into existence, which is cool I like that, you shouldn’t be as cocky or because a lot of times it’s going to go the opposite way, you know. Someway somehow, you know, things ironically it’s gonna turn out the way opposite of you talking s***.”
If it’s about the Clippers “talking s***,” the Lakers did plenty of that as well. Patrick Beverley may rub Lakers’ fans the wrong way with his words and style, but the Lakers were not exactly wallflowers in this department. They talked.
The Clippers, due to injuries — Paul George missed the first 11 games of the season due to shoulder surgeries, Kawhi Leonard missed training camp, Patrick Beverley was in and out of the lineup, and this list goes on — combined with load management, very rarely got their core players together on the court to build chemistry. In the bubble it was more of the same, with players missing time for legitimate reasons (Montrezl Harrell) or foolish ones (Lou Williams). The bottom line is the team not getting time together. There were factions within the locker room during the season. That seemed to catch up to them.
The Lakers took the regular season seriously, built chemistry, and figured out how an odd assortment of aging role players fit together well. They also had LeBron James and Anthony Davis stay healthy — the basketball gods favored them that way.
Every NBA champion gets a little lucky with injuries and other breaks going their way — one can assign that to the basketball gods and karma, or just random chance. Whichever way, those things broke right for a talented Lakers team and the result was championship 17 for the franchise.
The basketball gods smiled on them, but Green and the Lakers should be careful — those gods are also notoriously fickle.