Ever since Chris Paul became a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, the name "Lob City" has been the top meme of the 2011-12 NBA season. The moniker promises visions of basketballular delight on the level of gumdrop forests and marshmallow clouds. What we've seen from the Clippers so far this season has been a work in progress, but the name persists nonetheless. Once an expectation forms, it's hard to get rid of it.
The name started when Blake Griffin learned of the Paul trade, chest-bumped his teammate DeAndre Jordan, and exclaimed "Lob City!" However, Griffin now regrets saying the phrase in the first place. In fact, several Clippers seem to want to move out of Lob City entirely. From Arash Markazi for ESPNLosAngeles.com (via PBT):
"It's unfortunate," Griffin said. "It's one of those things where we understand it, but that's not what we're about. Before the game we're not going out thinking, 'All right, its Lob City tonight.' We're just trying to win games and trying to get better."
It was Griffin who famously coined the phrase when a camera crew caught him uttering the nickname as he chest-bumped Jordan after he heard the news Paul would be traded to the Clippers. He now wishes he would have never said it.
"If anybody says it in [the locker room], it's just a joke, making fun of the whole thing," Griffin said. "It's not on our minds at all."
Simply uttering the word "lob" draws an immediate roll of the eyes from Paul, who will usually switch the topic to half-court offense, tight defense or any other aspect of the game.
"It's something we can't control," Paul said. "We are a complete team, and we want to continue to be a complete team. That's the only way we're going to win games. It doesn't matter if you get 10 lobs and lose the game. It's all about winning at the end of the day."
I've said before that Lob City is a poor nickname, so perhaps the Clippers would feel better if they were known as "The Dunkset Strip" or "San Ferdunko Valley." I'd probably get tired of writing if people referred to me as "Mr. Blog" all the time. (I look forward to your comments!)
What the Clippers have reacted to here, more than anything, is the struggle of turning expectations into realities. Griffin understandably shared everyone's excitement about what Paul could do with this lineup. Yet the last few weeks have served as a reminder that they're still a basketball team with lots of issues to figure out. The challenges are now practical, not the stuff of clever (and not clever) nicknames.
So, yes, maybe any nickname would have proved inadequate. On the other hand, jokes are fun. What a conundrum!