For a couple of days I've been recommending that Clippers' owner Donald T. Sterling and Clippers' coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. kiss and make up. They both said a lot of dumb things. Sterling started it, which is bad, but he signs the checks so he's allowed to be bad. MDsrescalated it and essentially called his boss stupid, which is not a good idea in any line of work. Anyway, the team has been great through all of this, staying above the fray and saying all the right things (unlike their bosses); and based on their play last night, they seem to have rallied around the coach.
And just as suddenly as it began, the owner and the coach ended the conflict. Based on reports in the AP, the Press Telegram and the OC Register, MDsr and DTS spoke Wednesday and are 'on the same page'. All of these reporters based their stories on comments made by MDsr at Wednesday's shootaround. So that's that. Case closed. Everything's fine.
Only apparently it wasn't true.
The LA Times got to Sterling at halftime of Wednesday's game to follow up on MDsr's 'same page' statement. According to Jonathan Abrams:
After the game, Dunleavy cleared things up, saying he called Sterling three times and spoke to his wife, but did not reach the owner. In fact, he said he had spoken with one of the team's high-ranking officials, who told him that the owner and the coach shared the same goals and should bury the hatchet.
I'm tempted to dust off the old chestnut concerning exactly where the hatchet might be buried.
This is all pretty lame. MDsr, trying to do the right thing and defuse the situation says 'everything's cool', a major improvement over his 'let me make all the decisions and I guarantee we'll win, no one's a better coach than me' tantrum on Tuesday. Only in the process, he tells, well, a lie, about speaking to Sterling, which is, after all, a big part of the problem. Whether or not they actually spoke is not an insignificant detail here.
Sterling, presented with what amounts to an olive branch from the coach (delivered by a reporter, but delivered nonetheless), takes the olive branch and using it as kindling to re-ignite the smoldering wreckage of their relationship. Sure, the information was wrong and he was caught off guard. He couldn't think on his feet fast enough to say 'No comment'?
Here's a bigger issue. Monday you trash your coach. Tuesday he trashes you. And Wednesday YOU WON'T TAKE HIS CALLS!?!?!? WTF? Is Sterling a 14 year old girl breaking up with her boyfriend? 'Tell him to stop calling me! I never ever want to speak to him again! Why is life so unfair?'
What happened to 'get the liars in the room?' What happened to 'the fish still stinks the next day?' (Oh that's right, those are my managerial catch phrases but apparently not DTS'.) Wow.
Nobody likes to be made to look like an idiot, which is exactly what DTS did to MDsr in this situation. On Tuesday I joked that Sterling had finally taken a call from reality. Forget reality - take a call from the guy you owe $17M.