By ALYSHA TSUJI
College Contributor Network
I remember the Blake Griffin-less days when I'd sit in the nosebleeds at Clippers games, screaming my heart out. Whether the visiting team was from Orlando or San Antonio, the outcomes were impossible to predict. Those days are long gone.
Now, the Clippers are expected to win. Despite the fact that the franchise hasn't won a championship -- ever -- sellout crowds are filling the Staples Center to see the squad in red, white and blue. But just because the bad days are behind the Clips doesn't mean we should pretend they didn't happen.
Those days demonstrated the true character of the City of Angels: gutsy games clothed in a sense of unlikely optimism.
Back then, during every game I attended a feeling of elation lingered in the air, even if not nearly all the seats were filled. The Lakers were better, but to me, the Clippers were magic. Particularly, the rosters from 2005-2008 boasting Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley and Chris Kaman.
The exact date escapes me, but I vividly remember one night at Staples when I was at a game with my mom, my friend and my uncle. The Clippers trailed the visiting team (might've been the Bucks) by at least eight points with less than a few minutes left. My uncle left early to beat traffic. I begged my mom to stay. To my delight, the Clippers made a comeback run and won.
A lack of post-season prowess never bothered me.
Los Angeles, like the Clippers of five years ago, is far from perfect. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the homeless population in LA County topped 50,000 people in 2013. LA's Skid Row has "housed" homeless people on the streets for decades.
LA is also the destination for dream-chasers, from aspiring actors to hopeful musicians. The flashiness of Hollywood and the history of found notoriety attracts people from around the world. The majority don't find the fame and fortune, yet that doesn't seem to discourage anyone else from trying.
This is where the 2005-2008 Clippers and its home city marry -- both consist of a motley crew of individuals that get going when the going gets tough.
Somehow, the Clippers are always fun to watch even if they finish without touching the playoffs. And LA will always be home to the rich and famous, even when thousands of homeless people roam the streets.
Deeper than that, there's an attitude that both follow. To an outsider, everything might look hopeless, but to a Clippers fan or to a Los Angeleno, nothing is ever too far gone -- where there's a will, there's a way. Hope can be found in dire situations.
These comparisons can be viewed as weaknesses or delusions; however, I wouldn't have it any other way. Slapping a smile on any problem and looking for the positives in difficult situations is a skill that the Clippers and LA have mastered.
Dress up in optimism and conquer the world.
Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji
By ALYSHA TSUJI