by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport
The L.A. Clippers have long been the butt of many jokes for their draft mistakes (Michael Olowokandi is one of the biggest busts the L has ever seen), but over the last few seasons, they’ve made some very shrewd picks. Eric Gordon is looking like a steal at the No. 7 pick overall, DeAndre Jordan is coming along slowly but surely for a second-rounder, and let’s not forget about last year’s No. 1 overall selection, Blake Griffin. Almost everyone is ready to etch John Wall’s name on the Rookie of the Year trophy after his breakout performance in Vegas, but those same people would do well to remember that Griffin is eligible for the award considering that he didn’t play this past year due to injury. Make no mistake, Griffin will be a beast this upcoming season and be in serious contention for ROY. So the fact that the Clippers can’t get anything right is old hat and frankly, untrue.
With the eighth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Clipper Darrell’s favorite team chose Al-Farouq Aminu out of Wake Forest. A lot of fans didn’t know what to make of the baby-faced forward but his explosive athleticism, mid-range game, ability to run the floor and rebounding ability will prove to be a key component to Clipper Nation and complement Griffin and last year’s All-Star, Chris Kaman, in the frontcourt.
From the outset, Aminu exhibited his unique personality during the draft gauntlet, so I asked him to write a guest blog to give SLAM readers a small window into his world. I wish I could say I probed his mind for this information like Leonardo DiCaprio did in the movie, Inception, but alas, I don’t have Chris Nolan directing this post and I didn’t date Gisele Bündchen or Bar Refaeli (seriously, DiCaprio has been with some serious eye candy). Anyway, here’s Aminu’s account in his own words:
by Al-Farouq Aminu / @farouq1
June 24, 2010 is a day that I will never forget. It was on that date, I was selected No. 8 overall from a pool of truly talented and gifted basketball players to enter into the NBA kingdom, and play for the L.A. Clippers. To let my Mom tell it, I’ve been playing basketball since the age of 3 and since then have never wanted to do anything else. My journey has led me from Norcross HS in Georgia to becoming a McDonald’s All-American, playing in the Jordan Brand Classic and ultimately gaining the interest of Wake Forest University, where I was a unanimous selection for the 2009 ACC All-Freshman Team. I love basketball; it’s in me. Don’t mistake my passion for an overdose on the sport, but there is nothing else I would rather do. Well, perhaps I’d play video games professionally if I could do that. As I begin my career as a professional basketball player—I like the ring to that, cue Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got”—I start to realize that my show is just beginning…
NBA SUMMER LEAGUE
Let me just start off by saying that I was excited to go to Sin City, so I was completely focused on my game there. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I am only 19 and there’s not much you can get into at my age. No black jack, poker or clubbing, straight to my room to prepare for the next day, the next game and the next win. I enjoyed playing in the Summer League. I got a sense and rhythm of playing with some of my new teammates. I saw some old friends that I played against in college and I got an opportunity to go head-to-head with players that were recently drafted with me. The Clippers did really well. We far superseded expectations this year and gave our fans that traveled from L.A. to sit in the seats of UNLV’s Thomas Mack Center, a great show. My game was solid, but of course as the season goes on my game can only improve. Oh, and I got an “Honorable Mention” from… ahem, from my favorite basketball magazine, but I’ll let it slide this time. Summer League taught me the importance of teamwork and gave me a small taste of the energy that comes with playing in a NBA game. This season will be great, you can tell from the way we played in Vegas. It’s in the atmosphere. But on the flip side of the camaraderie that I experienced with my new teammates, the heat in Vegas was on another level. It should be against the law to be that hot. One-hundred eighteen-degree weather is just insane.
THE SUPPOSED L.A. CLIPPERS CURSE
If the Clippers curse was real then I wouldn’t be playing on the team. You know a young, suave brother like me, Al F. Aminu (and the F is for “Flow”). No seriously, there is no “Clipper Curse.” I was humbled in the fact that the Clippers allowed me to live out my dream. With anything in life, things are cyclical — sometimes you’re up and other times you’re down, but the true measure of a person and in this respect, a team, is how you make things work when it seems that you’re going against all odds, possessing the heart of champion, even if you don’t have a championship ring or title, and weathering the storms to be victorious. The Clippers are and will always be a proud part of the L.A. sports landscape. I am proud to be a member of this organization and promise this will be a great season. Coach Del Negro has put together a great team and you will see our cohesiveness when we get out on the court in October. There is no “Clipper Curse.” The only “curse” you will see or rather hear is from the opposing team when I get on the court and put on a show. I’m ready for my rookie year to begin and gain the respect and love from the loyal Clipper fans.
IN LALA LAND
L.A. is my home now and in my downtime, besides playing video games, I enjoy drawing and letting my artistic side come out. I recently went bike riding along the beach, which was cool and different. I can’t live without my iPhone 4 and maybe if Steve Jobs reads this article, I can add next time that I can’t live without my iPad, too! I’m exercising my entrepreneurial talents and working on a sunglass line as well. Overall, there is no other place I would want to be. Sunny beaches, great food and beautiful women. I love L.A. Go Clippers!