The Clippers Media Day this year provided a lot of the same old questions with the same old answers. What’s the difference between this year and last year? How do you make it different, though? Are you urgent? Are you? ARE YOU?
The Clippers mostly gave predictable answers to these predictable questions, but it was nice to see the guys ready to go, and healthy. In their spare time, the Clips also did things like play Connect Four or Pop-a-Shot with Brittany Held, which was fun but not terribly informative. Those videos are littered of the Clippers social media if you want to check them out.
There were, however, some interesting snippets during the player/coach press conferences.
The new guys kept the course, talked about playing within the system and being excited to contribute to what Doc Rivers asks of them. Marreese Speights spoke about the awkward transition it was initially from Warrior foe to Clipper teammate, but he is excited to get started. He claims the Mo Buckets moniker will be “bigger here.” Raymond Felton expressed enthusiasm about the idea of three guard lineups, and spoke about how he enjoyed doing three guard with J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, and Deron Williams at times. My guess is we’ll be seeing a bit of that here as well.
The rookies didn’t chip in with too much, though Brice Johnson did mention how his defense and rebounding were things that could possibly get him playing time. For now, I think it’s safe to assume it’s going to be an uphill battle for these guys to get on the court.
Brandon Bass spoke about “familiar faces, familiar places” being a driving force for him to come to the Clippers. His familiarity with Doc, Chris Paul, and the city of Los Angeles made this team a destination. Dorell Wright spoke of his interchangability and defense being the main things he wants to show the Clippers he can bring to the table. I haven’t been shy about wanting to give Wright a shot on this time, but with Pierce returning, I’m not banking on it.
Returning Role Players
Is Paul Pierce a role player? What’s his role? Anyways, today was bittersweet for Paul so I’ll stop myself from describing what I think his role should be. This is what Pierce said about his return:
I think why not give it one more shot, especially the way we went out of the playoffs, the injuries. Obviously you’ve got to be good, you’ve got to be lucky, but I just want to just give it one more shot. Like I said, to win a championship here for the Los Angeles Clippers would be monumental, and if I can be part of that, that’s something I thought about, and that’s something that drove me from August.
So uh, that’s that. Enjoy Paul Pierce! Austin Rivers talked a bit about the recent social media back and forth he’s had with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, saying that they’re “obviously jealous of my looks.” Playing off that, he also talked about how the team has bonded early on. While most players downplayed the urgency in the locker room, Austin talked it up some:
Right now I just feel like there’s a sense in our locker room, it just seems more serious this summer, or this season. Everybody is going into it with - there’s no more like win or bust or all these things. We’re not having any of these sayings, we’re just going to go hoop and try and get it done.
Austin also talked about people’s changed perception after Game 6, but honestly, that’ll fade the moment he trips on the court. It’s probably already faded.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Wesley Johnson, and Alan Anderson all spoke about being able to push each other in competition for being the final piece of the starting lineup. A theme amongst the role players was settling for less time for the sake of the team, and virtually everyone had a similar response that winning trumps everything.
Jamal Crawford, always a fantastic interview, was loaded with the same eloquent answers he usually provides. He calls Los Angeles his second home and talks about wanting to finally breakthrough with this team. He also mentions being ready to do whatever Doc asks of him, as that changed quite a few times over the course of last year. But some of my favorite stuff from Jamal is when he talks about his pride being from Seattle. He spoke about his experience raising the 12th man banner for the Seahawks:
Yeah, that was unbelievable. I watched it so many times. I watched Ken Griffey Jr. do it, I watched Shawn Kemp do it. You have to be like really important in Seattle to do certain things, and that was one of them. To see 70,000 people, I almost had an out of body experience. I was looking at everybody. I had a KG moment if you’ve ever seen the tape where I was screaming like going crazy. It was really something I’ll always remember.
Doc is always a great quote, and we’re all fairly use to how he maneuvers around the media. He mentioned playing Pierce mostly at the 4 this year. As far as urgency and the idea of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leaving this year, he astutely found his way around those questions, concentrating in the now. Get use to it. Doc said this about the gap between the Clippers and the Warriors:
I mean, really, we like our team. I can’t go into their team. I think we can play with anybody, and we don’t feel like there’s a gap. But that’s all we have to prove, and I think everyone has to prove that. I know history very well in this league, and there’s been a lot of ‘superteams” put together. I feel comfortable where we’re at.
J.J. Redick was with Pierce during his Press Conference, and he also downplayed the idea of urgency. He referred to his podcast during his pressor when asked about the athlete’s role in social issues, as he’s been outspoken on there about how he thinks it’s great that athlete’s take a role in social change. He also downplayed urgency, saying there’s been urgency since he’s been on the team.
Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin all fielded questions together. Speaking of social change, they mentioned anything the team did in regards to social stances on the court will be done together. The quotes were fairly vanilla here, dealing with disappointments and wanting to move forward. DJ talked about his positive role in Rio carrying over to a quality season. Oh, and Paul and Griffin mentioned they are both 100% healthy, which is probably the one thing you wanted to hear the most.
Well that was media day. The same quotes, but, the same excitement. The season is just around the corner, and preseason basketball is just around the bend. This is a very exciting time for what looks to be an extremely important season. Stay tuned.