Don’t look now but a franchise record 16-game winning streak has NBA analysts putting the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Finals. You read that right. Led by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, a healthy Chauncey Billups and arguably the deepest bench in the NBA, the Clippers are the hottest team in the league and more importantly the better L.A. basketball team.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Clippers were one of the laughing stocks of the NBA, a place where high draft picks go to fall off the face of the earth (Michael Olowokandi, anyone?). It’s been almost two decades since Danny Manning last made the All-star team as a member of the Clippers. Remember the legendary Dominique Wilkins played there as well. Years of futility made the Clips an afterthought. Even when Paul agreed to sign on (after his trade to the Lakers was blocked) many thought he was biding his time before bolting to the Knicks (remember his champagne toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding?). Instead CP3 has the Clippers boasting the best record in the NBA and courtside cameras in Los Angeles are zooming in on die-hard fan Billy Crystal, not Jack Nicholson.

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Can it be? The Clippers more relevant than the Lakers? Let’s not get hasty. The Lakers still have the hardware and all the banners hanging from the ceiling, but in a what have you done for me lately Association, the Clippers are young, athletic, and fun to watch while the Lakers are struggling, old, and watching Dwight Howard shoot free throws is like Chinese water torture.

Why are the Clippers so good? Well, not only are three-fifths of their starting lineup All-Stars, their aforementioned bench can start on almost any other team. With LaMar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, and Matt Barnes coming off the pine you have a recipe for winning basketball. I know two of those guys played for the purple and gold, but they’re wearing red white and blue now, ok. They might be holding gold at the end of the year as well if this keeps up. I’m sure Kobe Bryant will have something to say about that.

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