Los Angeles Clippers teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have experienced a lot of growing pains with one another. After a summer where they had the chance to work together extensively off the floor, they appear to be closer than ever to taking Lob City to NBA glory.
"It's been a great summer for us. I think we've both had an opportunity to grow," Paul told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview. "As you get older you realize it's all about winning and I think we both realize we really need each other in order to do that."
Both players had their share of schematic issues under ousted head coach Vinny Del Negro over the past two seasons. Paul has been firmly entrenched as the team's floor general and leader since his arrival in 2011, while Griffin has had to adjust to a role where he's not the focal point of the offense.
Now that both have spent time during the offseason together on adventures that included traveling to Asia and filming a national commercial for Foot Locker, they've managed to build a stronger relationship. Both players appear ready to make that chemistry translate into more wins under Doc Rivers.
Another factor that impeded their advancement in the playoffs last season was untimely injuries, which hit the Clippers hardest when they needed to be at their best. Paul had nagging ailments toward the tail end of the season and Griffin suffered an untimely ankle sprain in practice prior to Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs.
But Paul isn't buying the notion that any of it is grounds for making excuses. Via ESPN:
"There's no excuses," Paul said. "For me, years from now I'll never remember we won 56 games in the regular season [in 2012]. The only thing I'll remember is we were up 2-0 and we lost 4-2. That's all I remember. I just know we lost."