Tyronn Lue said the reason the Los Angeles Clippers teams known as “Lob City” didn’t have more success is because star players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin didn’t get along.
Lue was speaking to former Clippers player Matt Barnes and used the comparison of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s contentious relationship on the Los Angeles Lakers as a point of comparison.
“I think the biggest thing for me, it was the C.P. and Blake — two great players,” Lue said. “And it reminded me a lot of Kobe and Shaq — two great players that really didn’t get along as best they could. And you always had to step in like, ‘Man, nah, we’re gonna do it like this,’ and they would get on board. But they were too talented. Once you’re gifted, once you’re a max player, they be like, ‘Whose team is it?’
“It’s Steve Ballmer’s team or Donald Sterling’s team. Y’all gon’ make the most money you can make. You max players, get all the attention. Everybody in L.A. loves y’all. They know who you are. So, let’s just come together and let’s win. And so, they were young at the time. And so, I bet they look back on it right now, Blake and C.P., if they look back on it now they be like, ‘You know know what, we coulda…’
“It was special, very special. Two talented players. Two great players. And that was the biggest thing. When your two best players don’t really get along and take that next step together, it’s kinda hard.”
Ironically, the nickname Lob City was born when the then 22-year-old Griffin uttered it after learning that the Clippers had acquired the then 26-year-old Paul in a trade from the New Orleans Hornets in December of the 2011-12 NBA season.
After making the playoffs once in the previous 14 seasons, Paul’s arrival ushered in an era where the Clippers made the playoffs six seasons in a row. Unfortunately, they could never get past the second round and won only three of nine series while Griffin and Paul were together from 2012 to 2017.
Lue was an assistant coach for the Clippers under Doc Rivers for one season during that run and is now the team’s head coach. He is facing a similar dilemma in trying to generate playoff success, though he did lead the Clippers to the 2021 Western Conference Finals.
Last season, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George dealing with injuries, the Clippers were eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.
They have never been to the NBA Finals in their 54 seasons. It was thought that the pairing of Paul and Griffin, combined with other stars like Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick, would get them there, but it wasn’t to be.
The Lob City era ended with the 2016-17 season, after which Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets. He remains in search of his first NBA championship after further stops with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns. He’s heading into this season with the Golden State Warriors.
Unlike Bryant and O’Neal, who were able to overcome their differences to win three NBA championships together, Paul and Griffin never could sort out their issues to get even close to winning one, leaving Lob City as one of the NBA’s most disappointing stories.