At this time one year ago, everybody in the NBA community was dreaming about a Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles Western Conference Finals. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teaming up to battle LeBron James and Anthony Davis. A historically successful franchise against their little brothers across the way who, try as they might, had yet to win much of anything at all. Leonard and James fighting for the title of best player in the world. The storylines were writing themselves before the season even began.
That, of course, did not happen. After a pandemic, four-month hiatus, and the creation of a bubble in Orlando, the Clippers did not make it to the Western Conference Finals. They blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers, on the other hand, strolled into the WCF despite the Clippers attempts at match-making. LAL beat Denver in five games, then beat the Miami Heat in six to win another NBA title. The Clippers did not show up to the party they couldn't stop talking about in the regular season or the bubble.
While they have presumably been licking their wounds since that loss, the Lakers are only just now getting into the swing of their victory tour. As a part of the celebration, veteran Jared Dudley went on the Bill Simmons Podcast. When asked by Ryen Russillo what the team's reaction was to the Clippers blowing that lead he Dudley revealed that the Lakers laughed. From the 15:30 mark:
We were laughing. We were laughing, since, like, I can't believe it. I thought they were gonna win Game 7. I didn't think they were going to lose. Our whole mind was, we gotta beat the Clippers. We want the Clippers. They wanted us. There was the trash-talking that happened. Pat Bev 'check ball' during the pandemic, Playoff P talking about he the best, him and Kawhi, Kawhi with the commercials and the crown, we're seeing all the billboards up here. So when we go to practice every day, there's a Kawhi billboard. We see that billboard every single day. The world wants it, the world picking the Clippers... We were looking forward to that matchup. But you know what? It was just crazy. You see George hit the side of the backboard, Kawhi not having that. But those boys, they didn't want to be in the bubble. They didn't want to be there. I don't blame them for certain times, but the world needed to see the Lakers and Clippers, and it's unfortunate we didn't get to see that.- Jared Dudley
As enjoyable as it was to see the Clippers' superteam falter in a big moment as they did, it is definitely unfortunate Clippers v. Lakers wasn't in the cards this year. The series would have been a blast for all the reasons Dudley listed above.
But it ain't over yet. This version of the Clippers will be together for at least one more season, and they'll definitely be thinking about this segment the next time they play L.A. Whenever that is.