The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the most highly-anticipated teams in the NBA this season after their busy off-season. According to many, L.A. is the betting favorite to win the NBA Finals – and the franchise hasn’t even ever made it to a conference finals.
The third straight training camp in Hawaii for the Clippers commenced on Tuesday with the second overall practice of the team’s fall.
Newly acquired star forward Paul George has been to the Stan Sheriff Center twice before. He played a couple games here during his college years when his Fresno State Bulldogs basketball team played the University of Hawaii.
“Plenty of buckets in this arena,” remembered George. “Losing here. (George’s ’08-’09 team lost at Hawaii 69-43 and then won 61-51 in ’09’10). You always had tough games in this arena. But it’s fun. I like this kind of arena where feels like the crowd is on top of you. And they had a pretty good fan base for the most part when we played here. It was always good memories playing here; coming over across the water and feeling like you’re on vaca but still getting to play in an environment like this.”
George has some fond memories but he will not be playing that third career game here this week against the Houston Rockets. George, along with last year’s Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will miss Thursday night’s game. George is recovering from minor surgeries on each shoulder. Leonard has a history of leg injuries.
“I’m still engaged,” said George. “I’m still a part of what’s going on. Whether I’m playing contact, going up and down with these guys or not. I’ve been trying to be helpful to the younger guys. And just try to get a feel for the guys out there so when I do come back I know what I’m coming back to.”
“We’re going to play a lot of the guys. Some guys will not play,” said Clippers head coach, who has confirmed previously that neither George nor Leonard will play on Thursday. “Some guys will play very short minutes. It’s a long journey as far as we’re concerned. But we do appreciate the fans support. They’ll be in the building – those guys – but all of them aren’t going to play.
George was seen after practice talking with NBA legend, “the logo” Jerry West (also Punahou product and LPGA golfer Michelle Wie’s father-in-law). “It’s awesome,” said George of having West at practice. “I’ve been blessed to share a lot of moments with legends. Larry Bird, Jerry West now. You just cherish those moments. Any little gem they can give, you take it.”
Rivers stated the opportunity a trip like this provides for a team with many new faces to build chemistry. Veteran guard Lou Williams is the longest tenured Clipper player and he’s only been with the team since 2017.
“I think we won’t change much from last year about who we are,” said Rivers. “We just have more players to do what we do.”
The Stan Sheriff Center has long been sold out for Thursday night’s game against the Houston Rockets. The game is scheduled for 7:00pm and can be viewed on Fox Sports West.