CLIPPER POWER

Griffin is the Michelangelo of this Clippers band of brothers (Movie image above courtesy of Paramount Pictures).

On Thursday, the first trailer for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot was released. Being a kid born and raised in the 80s, I was excited to see the Ninja Turtles back in action on the big screen after all these years given the fact that lot of memorable things from my childhood never stood the test of time (I’m looking at you Crystal Pepsi).

What made the Ninja Turtles so great for kids was that it not only provided them with their first introduction to the Renaissance artists, but it gave them a new kind of superhero team to root for. The turtles were four brothers with distinct personalities that were united by a familial bond. No matter how often they fought or disagreed with one another they were a family, a cohesive unit inseparable in the face of adversity.

The Ninja Turtles seemingly provide an ideal blueprint for constructing a championship caliber team. You need distinct personalities, but at the same time you need players who complement each other on both ends of the floor and are united by a brotherly bond.

With this talented Clippers team, it’s easy to find players who fit this Ninja Turtles mold and who could ultimately help deliver a championship to Los Angeles. Let’s take a look.

“Leonardo leads.” 

Plain and simple. For some, Leonardo may be the least exciting turtle because he’s the one who always has to keep the team focused in the field. He’s basically an extension of Splinter, doing anything and everything he can to prepare his team for success. But it’s clear that without him leading the way, the team would fall apart. Since he arrived in LA in 2011-12, Chris Paul has proven that he oozes leadership. He’s the floor general for this group, directing teammates into position and shouting out plays left and right. More importantly, Paul is a team player, someone who knows that selfish play often yields disappointing results. If Paul is shouting and barking orders it’s because he strives for perfection and demands the best out of those around him, characteristics of a true leader.

“Donatello does machines.”

Often labeled the “nerd” of the group, Donatello’s presence is crucial nonetheless. He is the one responsible for building all the cool gadgets and gizmos that keep the team going. Simply put, he is a machine. And while DeAndre Jordan may not be a nerd like Donatello in the conventional sense, he has been a defensive machine all season long for the Clippers. He has put up career highs in points, rebounds and blocks and put himself on the short list of candidates to take home the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Since the arrival of Doc Rivers, Jordan has provided the team with a consistent defensive presence inside the paint. As the team heads into the playoffs, they’ll need him to remain a well-oiled machine on defense if they want to advance, and “that’s a fact, Jack!”

“Raphael is cool, but rude.” 

The hothead of the Ninja Turtles. Every group has one. He’s the talented, yet volatile player, who at times can let his emotions get the best of him. But emotion is a key element to a team’s success and chemistry. A player can feed off the emotions of a crowd or that of their teammates. When things get tough, you need that one player who can remain focused and keep the group going. For the Clippers, they have that emotional leader in Matt Barnes who has proven time and again that his talent and passion for the game are a driving force behind this team’s success. Barnes gives the Clippers a toughness and edge they’ve lacked in years past, and despite the fact that his emotions sometimes get the best of him, the team knows that when push comes to shove, Barnes has their back.

“Michelangelo is a party dude.”

The most fun-loving and entertaining turtle of them all. Michelangelo is easy going and enjoys what he does. When he fights, it looks like he’s having a good time. But don’t be fooled, he’ll still dominate you in a battle. Without a doubt, Blake Griffin is the Michelangelo of this Clippers band of brothers. While he’s proven through commercials that he has a fun, laid back sense of humor, it’s his performance on the court that really seals this comparison. Griffin’s high-flying, acrobatic dunks have become somewhat of a calling card for the power forward, but his overall game has evolved this year in such a way that he is now considered a truly dominant player and not just a flashy dunker. His excitement and energy for the game has also made him one of the most popular players in the league.

So as the season winds down and with the postseason on the horizon, this collective group of brothers will have to band together if they want to win the Western Conference and advance to the NBA Finals. With a seasoned coach in Doc Rivers guiding them the way Splinter does the turtles, the sky is the limit for this young team. It’s time for some Turtle Clipper Power.  

Colin J. Liotta is the co-founder of the website The Sports Hero along with his wife, Bushra, and acts as the Editor-in-Chief. The website combines sports and comics into one place for fans of both genres. See more of Colin's work at www.thesportshero.com