Chris Paul remembers what it was like when the Clippers weren’t a competitive team and Staples Center wasn’t filled to capacity and the building wasn’t electric from the excitement generated by close to 20,000 fans night after night after night.
“It was just a different mindset when you came here to town,” Paul said. “You felt like you were going to get a win. You felt like you could do whatever the night before and still be ready for the game. I don’t know (what they’re saying now). I don’t know. I don’t ask.”
Thanks to Paul and his Clippers teammates, Staples Center has become a difficult place for opponents to play. After all, the Clippers won 12 in a row, a franchise record, on their home court before facing the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.
The Clippers were 17-3 at home going into the game against the Mavericks, tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the league’s best record.
“It starts with our fans,” said Paul, who is in his second season with the Clippers after six years with the New Orleans Hornets. “We feed off their energy. I think it’s something you build during the regular season and then when it comes to the playoffs, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
“Yeah, no question, we want to get it even more loud and crazy. We want other teams to know that they have our crowd to deal with, not in a bad way. We want other teams to deal with our crowd when they come to town.”
The Clippers’ success on the court has translated to success at the box office. They went into Wednesday with 70 consecutive sellouts, dating to Feb. 2, 2011.
“We’re one of the best shows in town right now,” forward Lamar Odom said.
And what are visitors to Staples Center saying now about playing the Clippers?
“When this building turns into the Clippers building, it’s probably my second-favorite place to play after (Madison Square Garden),” Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant said last week. “They do a really god job and have a lot of energy in the building. …
“At least when they play us, the years I’ve been in the league, even when they were awful, it was always a fun place to play because the fans really got into it and it was one of those city rivalry type of games. It’s always been a fun place for me to play.”