Steve Ballmer’s Clippers failed like an old XBox


The Pelicans have unplugged the Clippers' controller.

The Pelicans have unplugged the Clippers’ controller.
picture: Getty Images

Man, Steve Ballmer must have been feeling really good getting Paul George and Kawhi Leonard for the first time. I mean how “Steve Ballmer overdoes a pep rally” good or “Christmas presents as a child” good. “I’ve just bought a brand new XBox and can hardly get home under the speed limit,” he liked.

And, boy, is some new XBox fun. You play it for maybe a year. Halo and Gears of War are great, but before you can even get used to A, B, X, Y instead of square, circle, triangle and X during a season of NCAA college football, you get the red ring of death, and there’s it nothing you or Microsoft can do to revive yours once brilliant, utopian toy.

Unlike my expensively discarded XBox, the Clippers still have a chance to redeem the title promised by Leonard and George, but that won’t happen this year. Ty Lue was doing everything he could to try and get that team into the postseason, and yet a glitch in the system occurred where a positive COVID test forced George to sit out the team’s final game of the season, a 105-101 Loss to the Pelicans on Friday night.

(If you’re asking, yes, I’ll keep milking this passable analogy for the entire $375 this piece of junk cost me. I still play my Playstation 3, even though it sounds like a jet engine, because the Uncharted is fun , to revisit games, and because they still work.)

I doubt any LA fans have dabbled in the Clippers fandom the way I dabbled in shoddy Microsoft tech after a successful stint at a legendary franchise like Playstation or the Lakers and how can you blame anyone who was stupid enough to try to fall back to old reliable? The Clippers as a franchise feels like an inanimate piece of technology. If Exist counts as “Telling a Story,” they have it in spades.

I’ve written an article about LA’s other NBA team a few times, and I may not be as good a writer as I think I am, but no one ever seemed to read them. That said, the reason I don’t think anyone reads these plays is because the Clippers don’t evoke emotion one way or another.

It’s hard to find an angle when writing about the Clippers because they are the Clippers. Donald Sterling was booted out of ownership, and every guy on that team was still playing basketball like they hated life. The addition of a few hometown talents didn’t endear the team to LA fans. If anything, it made the two stars traitors for not going to the Lakers and made the franchise a little more annoying.

Yes, LeBron James and Anthony Davis had an absolutely awkward season this year, but they won a title. Unsurprisingly, the Lakers, who sucked, garnered more press than Lue, who excelled without his best players.

You can call the Clippers’ play-in loss to the Pelicans Friday night a choke job if you like. They were three with five minutes left. But the truly missed opportunity — aside from having a Finals MVP for three years and a prime All-NBA wing and boasting just one appearance in the Western Conference Finals — was against Minnesota on Tuesday night, when George played and the team still squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and a playoff spot for the team whose top player struggled all game.

We’re well past the point where we expect this team to be fighting for a title. You can add any All Stars, Coaches, Arenas and Fans Microsoft can buy and the end result will be the same. Publicity gets in their way because they’re in LA and rightfully have great players. Basketball writers have an obligation to talk about the Clippers the same way they have to talk about Brooklyn.

Good job guys. Here’s how to find the two teams in key markets eliciting a collective “meh.” It’s like buying a Ferrari SUV. You can brag about being in LA or New York or having a $300,000 car, whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it cool. At least Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving give interesting or offbeat quotes.

I’m tired of feigning excitement about Clippers storylines. The only reason I wrote this was because I had an XBox analog that works on two levels, I’ve got issues with Microsoft, and it’s fun to see billionaires’ expensive toys bursting into flames.

Wait, is “weary with a team’s over-fascination” an emotion? It does?! Well, shit, I think congratulations are in order for the Clippers — because the playoffs certainly aren’t.

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