The season opener is finally here for the Clippers.
The new era kicks off tonight with owner Steve Ballmer courtside as the Clippers host Oklahoma City, the team that bounced the Clippers out of the playoffs last year.
The Clippers are searching for the organization’s first championship.
Guard Jordan Farmar believes the Clippers are gaining ground in the Los Angeles basketball landscape, too.
"It’s a new day here, it really is. The team is great. The staff is great," Farmar said. "The organization from the top down is great. You can say bad things about the Clippers but it really doesn’t play into how it is today. We’re a solid basketball team. We have a chance of doing something special. We have great ownership. Great leadership. There’s not too much bad you can say other than if you’re a Laker fan."
But first, the Clippers have a game to settle with Oklahoma City, which is without the injured Kevin Durant.
"There’s a little bit of a sour taste in the mouth of everyone in that locker room," Farmar said. "But we have a big picture goal. This is the first step in that direction, trying to build every day and start off on the right foot."
The Clippers will play back-to-backs Thursday and Friday and again on Sunday and Monday. The Thunder are playing the second of a back-to-back tonight, plus traveling to Los Angeles.
"You never look forward to the back-to-backs but on the flip side, you need to know when a team has played the night before and had to travel," Spencer Hawes said. "Especially early, that’s something you have to try to exploit."
The Clippers’ are welcoming their season opener, not only because of the disappointing playoff loss but because of the scandal involving former owner Donald Sterling and all the drama they endured with it.
The season opener gives the Clippers a chance for a new beginning.
"I woke up and my wife (Jada) said, ‘congratulations on opening day,’" Chris Paul said. "That was the first thing I heard. She sounded as excited as I was. And that got me excited. Now, they count. Now you get to the situation where you’re going to play bad some nights but you still need to win. It’s all about winning games."
The Clippers went 2-6 in the preseason, but they’re determined to reverse those early woes by playing better defense and rebounding better.
If the Clippers can get out of the difficult Western Conference and make the NBA Finals, they’ll go a long way in establishing themselves nationally and in their own backyard.
"I think all respect a winner," Farmar said. "Until that happens, they’ll never give us our due completely. At the same time people do watch games. They do come to the games. They are supportive."
Ballmer has been supportive too, cheering from his courtside spot below the basket in preseason, even helping the spirit squad by throwing free T-shirts into the crowd. It should be quite a scene.
Fans have a chance to start fresh, just like the Clippers.
"I think it will be good," Farmar said. "I think the energy in the building will be great. Everybody is going to be excited. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like as well."