They just won’t stop. They just keep talking. And the stories keep getting written because of all sorts of quotes that are being given to the press. As much as both sides have accomplished over the last couple years, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors simply refuse to shut up. You can blame the press all you want, but it’s gotten to the point where both sides really should just stop giving ammunition to one another. They’re locked in a blaster shootout akin to those ones in Star Wars, but they possess the hilarious aim of Stormtroopers. Both sides need to move on to bigger, more important things; for the sake of each side.
On the surface, it’s hard to blame either side for saying the stuff they’re saying. Unfortunately, it feels like there’s a whole lot of gray area in between each salvo across the bow. Neither side is particularly wrong with the stuff they’re saying, but they are wrong for saying it. It just has to stop at some point, right? You’d think, but if the recent verbal jabs by Klay Thompson and Doc Rivers are of any indication, this story – and I hesitate to call it a “story” because it’s seriously dumb – won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Why? Well, the two teams hate each other. And not even like that type of hatred you had on the playground when you grew up. It’s not even a “nemesis” style of hatred, either. It’s that “oh my god, I wish you just stopped breathing right now” hatred. Neither side comes out looking better off than the other in this ordeal and it’s about time for each one to just stop talking.
Fans – and even players – of the Warriors feel as if people are out to discredit their championship run. They feel disrespected. In a way, it makes sense to feel that way if you look at it from their point of view. From a Grantland article this past week, J.J. Redick stated that Golden State “had everything go right for them” and Doc Rivers added that “you need luck in the West.” If you look at just those two quotes as they stand, it looks as if they’re insinuating that the Warriors did indeed get lucky this past season en route to a title. Yet, as even Redick attests to, that doesn’t mean the Clippers would have definitely beaten Golden State. If you were to look all over the Twittersphere and Blogosphere, you would see people frantically typing away tons of words about how insane the Clippers are to suggest that they would have beaten the Warriors. As we all know, that’s not what was said.
During the Clippers’ media day, Doc Rivers even said that the Warriors “kicked our butt last year.” No one will remember that portion of the quote. Rather, they want to remember the part that draws the biggest reaction. Also during media day, Rivers went on to say that “Golden State is the only team who can say they got it right” and also mentioned that he could see a change in the Warriors when the two sides played during last year’s preseason. Rivers has praised Golden State for their year, but their fanbase feels slighted by him. It is hard to blame them, though. If someone appeared to routinely call your success “luck” rather than skill, you’d get pretty annoyed, as well. That doesn’t make the shots fired back by the Warriors any better.
Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson have since hurled off quotes in the direction of Doc Rivers over the last couple days. Bogut even went so far as to jokingly say that he actually got his ring fitted for his middle finger. Thompson threw “they couldn’t handle their business” and “I’m pretty sure we smacked them” gems back in the Clippers’ direction, as well. While Bogut’s comment was in jest, he also went onto basically blow off everything and called Doc’s comments “dead air.” I don’t think he’s wrong, either.
Comments – no matter how innocent you perceive them to be – that go out of their way to call into question the validity of a team’s title winning exploits does seem a tad disingenuous. Can you say that the Warriors got “lucky” in that they didn’t have to play the San Antonio Spurs or the Los Angeles Clippers? Sure, but it doesn’t mean you’re right. They played the teams that they had in front of them. It’s not their fault that the Spurs and Clippers had to play in the first round which left just one remaining. It’s not their fault that happened because the Spurs lost the final game of the regular season to the New Orleans Pelicans. It’s not their fault the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and 19-point third quarter lead in Game 6 to the Houston Rockets. Had the Clippers effectively closed out that series, then we’re not having this discussion. The Clippers didn’t, thus here we are.
A team who wins 67 games and turns in arguably the best season over the last decade – and possibly since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teams – doesn’t deserve to have terms like “luck” thrown their way. They deserve to be praised for their accomplishments and talk about them if they want. Sure, they defeated teams who were without their starting point guards or other players for a few games, but, once again, that’s not their problem or fault. They took advantage of what they were given. That’s what the best teams do. The berating of the Clippers does feel beneath them, if we’re being honest.
Both came from relatively the same place; locked firmly behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the division standings. You can throw in the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings for a couple years, as well, if you’d like. They were both trying to build something special. The Warriors just beat the Clippers there. By acknowledging those beneath you, you empower them to continue doing what they’re doing and freely run their mouth(s). It might be time for the Warriors to move on to other things. They’re the elite of the elite right now. If the Clippers are getting under your skin, then perhaps your skin isn’t as thick as you tried to make everyone believe.
The constant talk about whether or not the Warriors deserved their title, or were being slighted by Doc Rivers (and others), is wholly stupid. They have the title. Hence, they deserved it. This wasn’t a one game per round ordeal where they narrowly won games against superior competition. They were the superior competition. They proved it all season long and then showcased it during the playoffs. You and the Clippers don’t have to like it, but you certainly have to respect it. There’s also been talk that Rivers was referring to their lack of injuries compared to everyone else in the conference as the “luck” they received. That’s also dumb to buy into as an argument.
There’s a reason why Golden State was so fortunate with injuries last season – they were in so few close games that they didn’t even need to play their best players major minutes. If you play your best players fewer minutes, your chances of injury will probably decrease. Their best player, Stephen Curry, played in 80 games this past regular season. He played in the fourth quarter in just 60 of them. When you don’t have to play your best player in 25 percent of the fourth quarters he’s eligible to play in, you’re doing a pretty damn awesome job with minute allocation and injury prevention. That’s less wear and tear on the body. If you don’t think that stuff matters, then you’d be mistaken. Stress free minutes are the best minutes.
Look at the rest of the Warriors roster. Harrison Barnes played in all 82 regular season games, yet played in the fourth quarter only 66 times. Draymond Green played in 79 games, but only played 56 fourth quarters. Klay Thompson played in only 57 fourth quarters despite playing in 77 games. Andrew Bogut played in just 37 fourth quarters out of the 67 games he participated in. That’s their starting lineup. They all missed at least 16 fourth quarters. Injuries can be prevented when you’re not even having to play physical games down the stretch. That’s not luck; that’s skill and smarts. Praise them for it. Don’t dismiss them for it.
As we sit here on the precipice of a brand new season, the Clippers should really keep their mouths shut. Warriors, as well. Neither team looks particularly smarter than the other with each passing snide remark. They look like two little children vying for a parent’s attention. If the Clippers believe they truly match up well with the Warriors, go prove it on the court. If the Warriors really want to shut the Clippers up, go do it on the court. This constant back-and-forth is taxing and overdone. Until then, just keep quiet and go about your day.
For any Clippers fan, don’t demean what Golden State accomplished last season. You might not like them, but they were one of the most historically dominant teams that we have had the privilege of watching recently. If you’re a fan of history then you appreciate what they did. There was no “luck” involved. They got breaks, I guess, but truly great teams take advantage of those breaks. And they did. So, tip your hat and move on. What’s done is done. You don’t have to like the Warriors, but you must respect them. Act like grownups. That goes for everyone involved.