The Clippers and Thunder Series is Bigger Than Sterling

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    Updated: May 13, 2014
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    As the NBA playoffs proceed, there have been comments made by NBA broadcasters across different networks and platforms that have weighed heavily on my mind.

    One of the most important things discussed is the battle that is going on between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    These are the two of best teams in the NBA, and this series is shaping up to be a seven game extravaganza. Kevin Durant AKA “The Slim Reaper” has his heart and mind on the big prize, the NBA Championship.

    The NBA title has eluded the Thunder since their move from Seattle, and after Durant finally earned his first MVP (which had unfairly not come until this season) he is hungry for more trophies.

    Between the Thunder’s fab five and their exceptional style of play, they are close to realizing their championship dreams.

    The Thunder have already been to one NBA Finals where they lost in 5 games to eventual champion Miami Heat and now they want another crack at the championship.

    Last season due to an injury to Russell Westbrook they were unable to compete because they were not at full-strength.

    Although the Thunder seem to be getting close this season, they have not gone without their share of criticism along the way.

    And a lot of the blame for their shortcomings is put squarely on the shoulders of head coach Scott Brooks.

    The media loves attacking Brooks who has won coach of the year and is still capable of getting this team to an NBA Final this season.

    But as much as the media piles on Brooks and the Thunder, they are set on giving the Los Angeles Clippers a pass and plenty of excuses why they can’t win the series.

    Before Game 4, the media pointed out the Clippers would likely not win the series because of off court issues with team owner Donald Sterling.

    With all the ruckus behind Sterling’s off court behavior, he has caused the Clippers to lose focus apparently.

    Also, many of players around the league felt the Clippers should have staged a strike and called this year a wash until Sterling was removed from his position as team owner.

    I can see why it would be a distraction last series against the Golden State Warriors.

    But the Clippers have had this Donald Starling situation resolved enough right now that they can focus on basketball. There should be no excuses for them at this point.

    Nothing that is happening in this series can or should be chalked up to anything other than this being a good match-up.

    Pointing to Sterling for any Clipper’s losses bothers me as a fan of the game. There are plenty of indicators that the Clippers losses have had nothing to do with a lack of focus because of Sterling, but rather simply because this teams have played so often they know each other very well.

    During the regular season these two teams fought tooth and nail when playing and they split their series 2-2.

    And since 2008 they are 11-11 against one another. And their playoff series is currently split 2-2. Basically the story of their last 6-year history, even.

    Their records against each other shows this has nothing to do with Sterling or any off-court issues. Just two teams who know each other in an out, period.

    This series will definitely go seven games, and will be a complete toss up as to who will advance to the Western Conference Championship between the two of them. And this should be the narrative, not anything else.

    I can understand why the world was upset with what Sterling said, but Clippers players are professionals, and I highly doubt that anything said to them at this point can alter their level of commitment to their passion.

    The only thing this whole Sterling ordeal has affected at this point is television ratings.

    This Sterling situation has also given a platform to every bigot in America to voice his or her opinion unfortunately as well. It’s also unfortunate that Sterling’s comments have given further debate to race relations between whites and blacks.

    But none of this has anything to do with what is happening on the court. The basketball being played by all these great players should be the focus of discussion. Fans across America need to get back to focusing on the sport in-front of us and shut out all the negativity.

    If the Clippers lose this series the media will blame the Sterling incident as the reason for the loss.

    But you won’t hear that kind of B.S from the players because they all know it has everything to do with on the court execution and not off the court distractions.

    The Clippers players have earned my respect even as a Thunder fan, for the simple fact that despite all the crap they have had to listen to and read about, they are unfazed and continue to play great basketball.

    No matter what the outcome of this series is, the Clippers have played like champions throughout this entire ordeal.

    The rest of this series is going to be highly entertaining and let’s hope the focus stays on the positivity on the court, and not the embarrassing negativity off of it. 

    Follow @Harris9179 on Twitter

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