Some form of the word “excite” seemed to get mentioned more than anything else during Media Day 2012.
“Everybody’s in great shape, everybody’s excited,” said guard Jamal Crawford, who has been working out with his new teammates for nearly a month.
Blake Griffin, and just about everyone, was excited about the Clippers’ depth, Chris Paul about the newcomers, Lamar Odom was excited about being back in Los Angeles, and without question there was a level of excitement permeating the throngs of media that zeroed in on the Playa Vista Training Center Friday afternoon.
In terms of numbers, the scene was not a whole lot different than last year. There were reporters, television cameras, scribes, bloggers, radio personalities, and others from around the NBA universe here in 2011, but they were more interested in talking about potential.
Potential trades, potential stars, and potential wins.
Remember, Paul was but a rumor at that point, Griffin was merely coming off a Rookie of the Year award, not his first All-NBA appearance, and Caron Butler was 11 months removed from a devastating knee injury.
The uncertainty prior to the lockout-shortened season has given way to promise. You could tell in the framing of questions in each of the interview breakout sessions.
It was naturally assumed by the media that the Clippers were among the NBA’s elite. No longer was it about a potential breakout season, but building on the momentum from a 40-26 campaign and a sensational offseason that included adding Crawford, Odom, and Grant Hill.
The players were spirited as well. As they made their way through the circuit of media obligations, rarely was anyone without a smile. They would yell across the building to one another, like when Odom was getting interviewed by a handful of reporters and stopped to say, “What’s up slim” to longtime friend Butler, who was walking to autograph basketballs for charity about 40 yards away.
Everything felt a little bigger.
Last year there was a green screen in the back of the practice court where players were filmed for the team’s intro video at Staples Center. This year it was bigger. The green canvas stretched from the floor to the rafters of the two-story facility.
DeAndre Jordan stretched his jersey as if he were Superman and screamed, “Shake the rim” as music played from 15-inch speakers on either side of him. Of course, the gestures were incomplete without the video effects, but Jordan still seemed, dare I say, excited.