You have got to wear your big boy pants if you want to compete in the West.
That became even more apparent after one of the most bizarre episodes in the history of the NBA, in which the Los Angeles Clippers and DeAndre Jordan held the sporting world hostage with their drama-filled day.
When Wednesday night was over and Jordan re-signed with the Clippers instead of a Dallas Mavericks team he had given a verbal agreement to join, the Western Conference went right back to being that super-tough conference.
The NBA champion Golden State Warriors reside in the West and they don’t appear to be going anywhere soon.
They still have league MVP Stephen Curry, Splash Brother Klay Thompson and key players Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, and they re-signed Draymond Green to a five-year, $85-million deal.
So until the Warriors are dethroned, they are the team to beat in the entire NBA.
The San Antonio Spurs are the one team in the West that could overtake the Warriors.
San Antonio hauled in big free-agent fish LaMarcus Aldridge, getting him for a four-year, $84.1-million deal. The Spurs also got free agent forward David West, re-signed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green and heard Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili say they were returning to play next season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder has been overlooked because it missed the playoffs last season and because of all its injuries.
But if all things are equal, the Thunder will be tough to beat if Kevin Durant (right foot surgery) and Serge Ibaka (right knee surgery) return to their pre-injury selves. Sure, the Thunder has a rookie coach in Billy Donovan, but he has Durant, Russell Westbrook and perhaps Enes Kanter when he re-signs.
The Clippers got back into the West championship picture when they looked lost after Jordan decided to re-sign with them for $87.6 million over four years instead of going to Dallas.
With Clippers Coach Doc Rivers calling the shots, this team should be in the conversation as a team that could come out of the West.
The rest of the West won’t make it easy on the top four aforementioned teams because the Houston Rockets still have James Harden and Dwight Howard, the Memphis Grizzlies re-signed Marc Gasol (five years, $110 million), New Orleans gave a five-year extension for $154 million to Anthony Davis and the Utah Jazz played very well after the All-Star break.