Clippers' family continues to grow

February, 27, 2013
2/27/13
12:11
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Twitter hasn't been around very long, but if it were around during the Los Angeles Clippers' early years, chances are players wouldn't be running to their computers and phones after games to praise the team they played for.

In fact, it might have been fertile ground for some good #ShotsFired moments.

[+] EnlargeLos Angeles Clippers
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Clippers have shown they are as much like a family as any team in the NBA.
You might have had Ron Harper comparing his time with the Clippers to being in jail. You could have had Danny Ferry tweeting that he would never play for the Clippers while he hid in Italy. And you might even have had Shaun Livingston tweeting about rehabbing his knee in a public health club next to senior citizens.

Thankfully for the Clippers, Twitter's rise into the social consciousness has coincided with the Clippers' rise in respectability and few public forums have done a better job of showcasing the Clippers' newfound admiration quite like Twitter.

On Monday, Jamal Crawford was in Seattle for the birth of his daughter, London. He would also be forced to miss Tuesday's game to be with his wife before rejoining the team in Indianapolis on Thursday.

Before Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Clippers forward Trey Thompkins tweeted a picture of the Clippers' entire team, coaches and training staff and sent it to Crawford with the message: "Show love all the way to London #ClipFam."

In the picture, all the Clippers are gathered at center court of the team's training facility with Chris Paul and Caron Butler holding a hand-written sign that read, "Welcome to the Clippers family London!"

Soon after the photo was tweeted, Crawford tweeted back, "Clippers organization from top to bottom is the best, never wanna play anywhere else. #honestmoment #family"

It might have been just another tweet for any other team, but not for the Clippers. Here was a player going out of his way to say the Clippers' organization was the best he has ever been associated with and he never wanted to play anywhere else.

It's a culture change that Paul helped usher in when he arrived in Los Angeles before last season. He wanted players to know each others' families, he wanted them to attend their children's birthday parties and act as extended family members.

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan basically serve as honorary uncles to their teammates' kids now after games as children run around the locker room, developing new handshakes and make-believe dunks.

Crawford swears the atmosphere has helped him have one of the better seasons of his career.

"This is the most fun I've had playing basketball," Crawford said. "I've never been a part of a team like this where it's a real family."

That closeness comes through on Twitter whenever Jordan tweets a picture of one of his teammates sleeping as a handful of other teammates gather around for the snapshot. Or when Paul tweets a picture of the team going out for dinner or going to the movies. Paul doesn't necessarily have records and stats in mind when he organizes team gatherings but admits there probably is a connection.

"I definitely think that it helps and doesn't hurt," Paul said Tuesday night. "When you really genuinely care about other people's well-being and stuff like that, it feels good to win for them. When you're divided within a team it isn't the same feeling when you win. It's exciting when you win on a team like ours because when you win everything is better: food, music, everything."

As Crawford watched the Clippers' 106-84 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday in Seattle, it might have even made being a new dad feel better as well.

Life in Lob City is always a little bit better when Griffin is playing above the rim as he was Tuesday, finishing with 24 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and maybe a just-as-important 7 dunks. Griffin ended the first half with three highlight dunks that were on par with any he has had this season.

The most impressive was the first as Paul flicked the ball to Griffin from the opposing 3-point line. Griffin caught it in midair in the paint and slammed it home.

"It was almost an accident," Paul said. "Everyone is going to think I did that on purpose, but I threw the ball just for him to catch it and take a dribble and dunk it, but I guess he saw an opportunity to not take a dribble."

Griffin laughed as he heard Paul's explanation and was asked to expand on it.

"I didn't want to waste time," Griffin said.

The same can be said of the Clippers' goals this season. Paul has been a part of teams with good chemistry that have had good seasons before, but he wants more this season. There are no titles for having good chemistry and he doesn't want to waste any time with this group.

"You're not always on teams like this," Paul said recently. "But when you are, you have to make the most of it."

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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