If you keep your finger on the pulse of the NBA, you probably already know that there was a bit of a scuffle between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets this week. The actual truth of what happened has slowly emerged, and really the debacle was blown out of proportion. Regardless, anytime a chance for some drama crops up the Twitter frenzy will begin, and the aftermath is a new and bitter rivalry that has the ability to last years.
It’s understandable that the Clippers, and their fans would still harbor some resentment after their star player chose to leave in free agency last summer to join another team in the same conference. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin went together much like peanut butter and jelly–one is just not as good without the other. As with any other player who returns to their former home court, Paul was met with a mixture of boos and cheers from the Los Angeles crowd indicating that many still have emotions about him one way or the other.
It’s fair to say that both teams played a part in the tense match-up that resulted in two ejections, an elbow from Griffin to Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni, and a post-game “confrontation” that left two Rockets players suspended two games each by the NBA.
However, several days later, the resentment still lingers. Houston is undoubtedly angry about the lack of punishment for Griffin after he stepped out of bounds to deliver an elbow to Coach D’Antoni. The league has stated he was in bounds, and that the contact was negligible, but the video playback appears to show Griffin out of bounds. Given Griffin’s tendency to be aggressive on and off the court, one can speculate that he may have done this intentionally.
Houston and Los Angeles will likely continue to spat about this for the remainder of the season, but this type of bitterness involving the Clippers isn’t anything new. In fact, the Clippers have created a few enemies for themselves in recent years.
Two years ago, the Memphis Grizzlies lost in epic fashion to the Golden State Warriors — 119-69 to be exact. A blowout like that is very rarely seen in the NBA. In fact, the league doesn’t want to see those kinds of losses because it’s bad for business. No one wants to watch a game like that, let alone play in a game like that. The Grizzlies blew it big time, and the Warriors got a decent practice in. The best thing to do with a loss like that is learn what you can, and forget about the sting of the loss as soon as possible.
And, that’s exactly what the Grizz set out to do. That is, until the Clippers chimed in to remind them. Lob City lost their match up to the Warriors just a few days later by four points. An employee of the Clippers’ organization tweeted out the results of the game 112-108 with the hashtag, “#didntloseby50,” and the Grizzlies had some thing to say about it. Courtney Lee stated, “It’s childish. We took our L and we kept moving right? We lost by 50. We didn’t cry over it, and went on to the next one. Apparently, they’re holding onto it. That’s what they got to do to overshadow their loss. Last time I heard, a loss is a loss. But, that’s what they do over there.”
Tony Allen also chimed in saying, “You ever seen the movie ‘White Men Can’t Jump?’ It’s like those brothers who would rather look good in a loss than bad in a win. Whoever is in charge of their Twitter should be fired. I’ve never seen anybody broadcast losing. Who’s proud of losing–whether it’s by one, two, three or fifty? Enough said.”
The Clippers later deleted the Tweet, and stated that the employee who sent the message had been disciplined by the organization. Unfortunately, the damage had been done.
The Clippers drama continued, involving the Golden State Warriors more directly this time. NBA bad boy Draymond Green was picked up by the game microphone trash-talking Paul Pierce. He is heard saying, “You can’t get no farewell tour, they don’t love you like that. You thought you was Kobe?” Pierce later fired back via Twitter saying, “73 wins and u thought u was gonna win the title that year…3-1 lead oops.”Pierce also said that when he first went to play for the Clippers he could feel the emotions between the Clippers and the Warriors saying that, “it really felt like a playoff atmosphere.”
Draymond just straight-up trashed Paul Pierce. "You can't get no farewell tour, they don't love you like that…You thought you was Kobe?" pic.twitter.com/SC0A0vxLTo
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 24, 2017
Fast-forward to today, and ex-Clipper Matt Barnes is not at all surprised that the Rockets players were targeting Austin Rivers when they entered the Clippers locker room this past week. Barnes stated,
“He talks a lot of trash, and doesn’t really back it up. I think people are probably tired of that. He’s just very arrogant. You know, I know him personally, and at the beginning it kind of took a little bit to get used to. And as a teammate, you just kind of accept him for who he is and have his back as a teammate. Hearing guys talk around the league and seeing guys that had a problem with him while I was playing with him, I could see why. He carries himself like he’s a 10-time All-Star, and he’s not that. That kind of arrogance rubs people the wrong way.”
Barnes went on to express some harsh words of criticism for Coach Doc Rivers saying that he’s played a vital role in the demise of the Clippers. “At the beginning he did well, but I think his players started seeing through him. You know, say one thing and do another thing. Do things like give his son a bunch of money, sign his son. As players, that’s the kind of stuff you talk about…You’ve seen the best of the Clippers the way they’re built as they stand now.”
It’s no secret that the Clippers are a hot-headed, and aggressive team. In fact, that’s kind of the identity that defines them. Unfortunately, it’s also the identity that has created a lot of animosity between that organization and many other teams in the league. The tricky part comes in when current Clippers players move on to other organizations. It’s always best practice to keep your relationships in good standing–one day any person could be your next boss or coworker.
Being the most hated team in the NBA is a neat idea in a villainous kind of way, but in actuality it makes things emotional. Not everyone can handle a highly emotional work environment and succeed. As for now, they’re making their way into lots of headlines, but not into many hearts.