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The (Updated) Villains of Clipper Nation: 2015-2016 Edition

Z-Bo, Draymond, Kobe, and of course, Riley.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

This was almost a very different list.

It feels like years ago, but do me a favor and try to remember your Fourth of July weekend this past summer. If you're like me, while your friends and loved ones lounged around a barbecue, day-drinking and idly guzzling grilled meats (what the French refer to as "Diaw-ing"), you spent your holiday abjectly updating the Excel workbook you used to simulate the Clippers' salary cap options in a post-DJ hellscape.

The emotional fallout from DJ's apparent defection was simply too toxic and immediate for me to process in any other way. Well, any other way besides launching that "F*&K Cuban Let's Buy A Controlling Stake In Cyberdust and Dissolve It" Kickstarter that never really got off the ground. (On a related note, Mr. Stern if you're reading this, I'm happy to return the very generous donation you made or donate it to a charity of your choice. Or we could all go out for ice cream, up to you.)

So instead of spewing the dejection/confusion/Elton Brand PTSD cocktail inside me all over the interwebs, I forced myself to be productive. Now that the DJ ship had apparently sailed, what could the Clippers do to replace him and remain a relevant Western Conference contender? Surely Excel would have the answer! Ballmer has Ballmer money for a reason!

But no matter how many times I re-filtered my "If we keep Ekpe..." pivot table or adjusted my Wes Johnson macro , Excel kept yielding the same despairing response.

Luckily, thanks to a few guilt-inducing Callie Rivers texts and the surprisingly decent cell phone reception you can get on a banana boat in the Bahamas, Clipper fans were able to slide DeAndre back into his rightful place in our hearts and our spreadsheets (even if he's like most of the spreadsheet now).

Once I had finished consuming the endless analysis of the re-decision's fallout (you can pretty much draw a direct line from DJ to Samuel Dalembert to Boehner's resignation), a nagging thought that had first occurred to me while DJ was a Maverick began to resurface.

Before all the blood and tears and emojis were spilled this summer, the Mavericks were one of the few Western Conference teams NOT involved in a protracted Highlander-esque blood feud with the Clippers.

Review your Western Conference standings from last year. Count how many teams you hate, how many teams hate us, and how many teams you would hate on a more active if basis if Kobe hadn't singlehandedly destroyed it from within in some weird Shakespearean tragicomedy that will obviously end with D'Angelo Russell's death.

Dubs and Grizz (real beefs). Thunder and Rockets (playoff trauma beefs). Lakers (joyously irrelevant beef), Suns and Kings (weird Blake beefs). And now even the Mavs (signing period beef).

Which makes the task of ranking the villains of Clipper Nation that much more problematic. In retrospect, last year's ranking was a cakewalk. All I had to do was evaluate who had punched Blake in the nuts the hardest, and proceed from there.

nba animated GIF

This year, with so much mounting contempt between the league and Clipper land, the task is much harder. So I'm expanding the list from 5 to 10, and I'm somewhat changing the criteria. Here's the tenants of sports villainy I humbly submitted last year, intended to separate the Anthony Morrows of the world from the Draymond Greens.

  1. When a nonpartisan friend mentions the villain's name, is your immediate and involuntary reaction, "God I hate that guy"?
  2. Has the villain injured a member of your team? Extra points if it's a key player/hometown favorite that suffered the injury, and if the injury was severe.
  3. Does the villain seem to play uncommonly well against your team? Extra points if the villain is typically terrible against all other opposition.
  4. Is the villain a dirty player? Extra points if the villain pretends he's never deliberately punched your star power forward in the groin.
  5. Does the national media portrayal of the villain not conform at all to what you see when you watch the games? Extra points if the villain is attempting to rebrand himself late in his career as a "hard-ass egomaniac" as opposed to just your run of the mill egomaniac.
  6. Has the villain broken your heart? Extra points for soul-crushing postseason defeats.

Those rules still apply, but this year I'm actively applying them to coaches, media members, referees, and even some metaphysical enemies that have roiled the Clippers for years. Without further ado...

Villains Also Receiving Votes


Sure, Spencer Hawes' play (or lack thereof) impacted the team more profoundly. But for those of us old enough to remember what Clipper fandom was like during the Bynum-Gasol era, the mere sight of Farmar pouting and bricking jumpers in red, white and blue was beyond nauseating. There's a special kind of contempt the rest of the league reserves for Laker championship role players who so easily settle into the sense of entitlement synonymous with the franchise and the fan base. Thus the oversized resentment toward your Luke Waltons, your Derick Fishers, your Sasha Vujacics (and in a previous era, your Rick Foxes and Devean Georges).

But Farmar is special case, as tales of his dickishness conform to the convenient narrative of his detractors. When all those "bad chemistry" rumors came spilling out of the Clippers' locker room, no one was shocked when Farmar was cut and the team immediately started playing like it had finally found the mole intentionally sabotaging the offense.

Bursa Sacs

I'm willing to bet that Clipper fans are more familiar with the anatomical function of the bursa sac than most med students. It's not just Blake that has missed significant time due to a case of poopelbow. Jamal Crawford has had sac-related issues as well. Can Jasen Powell just remove all of these before the season starts so it's guaranteed we don't lose a rotation player for multiple weeks?

10. Patty

The Spurs are one of the few teams that appear to share a mutual respect with the Clippers, and the epic first-round series only seemed to reinforce that appreciation. For Clipper fans, defeating the Spurs was more like summiting Everest or swimming the English channel than slaying a hated foe. Because every mistake a team makes against the Spurs seemingly results in an uncontested corner three, in a sense the Clippers were really playing against themselves. The result was such beautiful basketball that it's awkward to hate anyone involved.

Well, almost anyone. Patty Mills killed us that series, and while Marco Bellinelli and Boris Diaw certainly enjoyed their "how is this guy beating us singlehandedly?" moments, no one quite did it with as much unnecessary animation as Patty.

Mills shot 57% from three in that series, and honestly should have played more to relieve an ailing Tony Parker. But far worse than the shooting was the kinetic hyperactivity, with him consistently picking up Chris Paul fullcourt. This was most obnoxious in Game 7, when Paul could barely drag one leg over half-court over a full shot clock, let alone eight seconds.

9. Tony

Since May, I've been asked repeatedly by Laker fans which soul-crushing viewing experience was worse: the inexplicably horrific ending to Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Thunder,  or the inexplicably horrific ending to Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets.

For me, the answer is simple. Game 5 against OKC was far, far worse. Against the Rockets, God merely suspended the laws of probability for a quarter to make sure he covered. Against the Thunder, our collapse was aided and abetted by a mere mortal

Never forget.

8. Obligatory Kobe Entry

Just paying respects here. Hard to really despise a player whose only notable achievement the past four years is a surprisingly decent Showtime documentary about how hard it is to be a basketball player no one really likes.

7. The Concept of Time

Stay with me here. Time, in all it's quantum complexity, has always bedeviled the Clippers. Of course most recently, there was this:

But that's not the first, nor the most painful, instance in which a Clipper player has gotten lost in the vortex.

Not sure what the solution is here. But I do like the idea of Ballmer opening every game over the PA with "synchronize your watches...and zunes."

6. The Overachieving Rockets You're Still Allowed To Hate

Let's just say if Smoove and Pablo were still in Houston, this group might have moved up. Thank you, Houston, for ruining win probability charts for all Clipper fans for the rest of our adult lives. I couldn't even enjoy the Michigan-Michigan State punter fiasco because of you.

(Clipper Conspiracy Theory Alert: Why haven't we seen any Game 1 Memphis Comeback win probability charts? Was math not invented then?)

5. Chandler and Mark

What's the over/under on how many seasons DJ will have to endure being booed when he visits Dallas? Obviously both games this season will be madhouses, at least in the first quarter and during every missed free throw.  But will it extend to next year? The year after that? What other reasons would Mavs fans have to come out to games?

4. Riley

The scene: Chris Paul Jr. sits on his father's lap as they watch the Golden State Warriors clinch their first NBA title in four decades. Chris Jr. looks up to his father inquisitively, and begins to gesture at the TV.

Chris Jr: "Who's that?"

Chris Paul: "Riley. You know her, Uncle Steph's daughter."

Chris Jr.: "Does she get to hold the trophy?"

And with that, the last vestiges of human warmth escape Chris Paul's heart.

Get off Chris Paul Junior's block, Riley.

3. Steph

I don't personally hate Steph as much as some members of Clipper Nation do. I readily admit that he is the greatest shooter I have ever seen--and I saw Eric Piatkowski, in his prime.

But why do all the vines feature us on the receiving end on something wildly overrated? Why not show that three he hit against New Orleans in the playoffs over and over and over again until it becomes iconic. Honestly how hard is it to dribble past Spencer Hawes?

2.  Marc and Zach

The most painful loss of last year's regular season? Some would argue the Portland brainfart, others the Brooklyn collapse in February.

But to me, it was this:

Two years removed from their last postseason bout, and regular season games with the Grizzlies are still filled with the distinct edginess of two NBA teams that genuinely don't like each other. Our escalating and overhyped war of words with the Dubs has officially supplanted hostilities with Memphis at the top of Clipper rivalries, but good god a loss to Z-Bo and Marc still stings quite like nothing else.

1. Draymond

Ugggh. Draymond.

As always, huge shoutout to the homie Connor Carroll, the Clips Nation's artist-in-residence. Connor you are the Bledsoe to my... man it hurts to let anyone else be Bledsoe, but you deserve it.