A little over a year ago,
Steve Ballmer was
smiling at the
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
The owner of the
Los Angeles Clippers
had managed to convince the best player of the last season and one of the best companions in the league.
In his hands, to one side and another and with the permission of his neighbors
LeBron James and Anthony Davis
, the best couple in the NBA.
But that jersey that was holding the last Finals MVP and the one that had been the object of desire of his arch-nemesis Lakers weighed.
And its history more.
and it weighed not for titles and victories, but for something more difficult to reverse,
Clippers are one of the losing franchises in the NBA
Those who navigate the last stretch of the competition waiting for strokes of luck and better times.
One such stroke of luck was
The power forward took them to a higher step than they were supposed to be, allowed them to face the transfer by one of the best point guards in the league,
, and fight for the ring.
They died, at best, in the conference semifinals.
That's why having Kawhi Leonard and Paul George was important to Ballmer.
It wasn't just the second attempt of the decade to get to the ring.
It was, this time yes, a solid couple, with wickers, titles to their credit and with conditions of being favorite number 1 to the title.
That is why when the Playoffs began the name of the Clippers appeared first in the
bookmakers when it came
to talking about the NBA ring.
, one of the championship's best scorers, by
, a dominator of the paint, by Kawhi, by George ... And by
, who had already won the title with the Celtics and is considered one of the best coach of the championship.
They suffered and
in the first round and faced the semifinals against some young Nuggets who came from coming back from 1-3 against the Jazz.
They seemed far superior.
and lost one to go 3-1 against the Colorado franchise.
They were one step away from their best season in the NBA.
And they have
In one of the
biggest negative (sporting) events in league history
In the confirmation of his
, the one that explains why it is more difficult to convert a losing team into a champion one than to match the successes of someone who has already won.
In the sixth they had almost
20 points of advantage and they 'let themselves' go back
And in the
, when the heart was tightening, the young Nuggets were better than them, with no response to what the situation demanded.
The Kawhi, George and Rivers Clippers
won't be West finalists either
One more stain in its history, one quite large and we will see with what consequences.
And the worst, at his side, calmly navigating the upper side of the table, the
, with LeBron James assuming under his shoulders the weight of a story, this one, full of titles and victories.
Honor the Denver Nuggets
Beyond the embarrassment of the Clippers, we
must talk about Denver
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
And Mike Malone
The latter has been able to weave tactics and talent to turn around two playoffs that threatened to shorten his future in the Colorado franchise.
In both series, against Jazz and Clippers, Malone has gone from less to more, releasing and freeing his players as the games go by.
And this seventh against Los Angeles has been the pinnacle of their basketball.
Nikola Jokic in total freedom
, organizing his team's attack from the high post, moving the rival defense to make room for
The Canadian point guard scored
to lead his team, which lost twelve points but did not take his foot off the gas when he got ahead.
Jokic's leadership is great news for NBA centers, even if they don't look like him.
He missed from the triple, but assumed directing responsibility, aware that it was not his night to the basket, and made the Clippers suffer from there.
The one from the Balkans
is a point guard in the body of a twenty-something who hates the gym
and is forced to play pivot.
There is no further explanation.
Serbian scored 16 points, captured 22 rebounds and distributed 13 assists
for the final 104-89, with partial +10 and +7 in the second half for the Nuggets.
In front, a rival that neither could nor wanted to counter him.
Kawhi stayed at a scant 14 points, to Paul George's 10.
24 so many between the two stars that were supposed to lead the Los Angeles ring.
They will have to wait.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project
NBA 2019 - 2020A genius of Jokic, a ball that danced in the hoop: the agonizing end that resolved the most even series of the playoffs
NBA 2019 - 2020 The Clippers do not want to change their history: they let 19 points escape and there will be a seventh game against the Nuggets
NBALeBron James returns the Lakers to the West Finals a decade later
See links of interest
Santander League Calendar
16th stage of the Tour de France, live: La Tour-du-Pin - Villard-de-Lans