According to ESPN, the Los Angeles Clippers’ team plane was struck by lightning on Feb. 25 en route from Los Angeles to Denver. Most of the players were napping at the time. When lightning struck the plane the engine went silent and the aircraft dropped in altitude several times before ascending to cruising altitude.
When ESPN published the story, backup guard Bones Hyland quote tweeted with the comment, “NGL we thought it was over wit.”
“Us players, we’re trying to nap away,” guard Eric Gordon told ESPN, calling it the second-worst flight he has experienced in his 15 NBA seasons. “Oh, everybody was up after that for sure.”
Do Planes Get Struck By Lightning Often?
According to Mainblades, a Netherlands-based aircraft tech company, planes being struck by lightning is a fairly common occurrence.
On average, every commercial aircraft is struck by lightning once or twice a year. And at any given moment, there can be as many as 1,800 thunderstorms happening simultaneously. That averages out to 40-100 lightning strikes every second worldwide.
According to the International Air Transport Association, an aircraft is struck by lightning every 1,000 flight hours, the equivalent of one strike per aircraft per year.
Clippers head coach Ty Lue saw a parallel with his team’s five-game losing streak after the All-Star break and the lightning strike.
“Our luck was so bad, we even got struck by lightning,” Lue said.
The Clippers did seem to find all kinds of ways to lose games in that streak. Blowing double-digit leads late, fumbling critical possessions out of bounds on simple passes. It’s wild for a veteran team led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
But, perhaps that bad stretch is behind them and their luck has started to change.
The Clippers have won four straight, including Wednesday night’s win over the Golden State Warriors at home. They survived a 50 point eruption from Stephen Curry and managed to execute and win the game. One they likely would’ve lost during that post-All-Star streak.
With 12 games left in the season the Clippers are only a half game behind the Kevin Durant-less Phoenix Suns for fourth place in the West and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Clippers Still Have A Shot At The Title
It’s unlikely they catch the third-place Memphis Grizzlies who they are five games back of. But all is not well in Memphis despite the fact that Ja Morant will return to the team next Monday and after a ramp-up period likely be available to play by next weekend or early the following week.
But one thing for sure is certain, there are no guarantees in this topsy-turvy parity-driven season. If a team can play their best basketball at the right time anything is possible.
“We just have what it takes,” George said last week after the Clippers defeated Toronto. “It’s just putting it together on both ends. Even within the losses, we’ve proven that we can compete [with contenders], and it’s just small stuff that we got to clean up and take ownership of.
“We have all the intangibles. We have the personnel. We have the coaching. Everything that a championship team or a team that can compete for one has, we have in our locker room.”
George is an All-NBA caliber player and one of the elite two-way wings in this league. As is Leonard, who is sneakily eighth in the league in EPM and is scoring with elite efficiency 51/42/87 splits.
Lue is a championship-winning coach, and Leonard has been the best player on two title teams. Anything is possible. You’ve got to be good and you need a little luck.
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