Clipper Nation is a group of 17,000 passionate fans who arrive at Staples Center for every Clippers game, but at its core, is comprised of one man.
Montrezl Harrell is the human personification of hustle. Every single game, he goes out on the court and leaves every single bit of himself out there. When you look at a stat sheet and see that he scored 15 points, you know that none of those 15 points came easy. He hustled, clawed, and fought for every one of those points. Many NBA players say they’re passionate about the game of basketball, but you can see Trez’s passion in his play. It’s both rare and an absolute joy to watch.
“Every day I get to wake up, lace up my shoes, play the game of basketball, and be able to call it my job,” Harrell said. “Not a lot of people are able to do that. There’s no greater feeling than being here, and be in this light of a using a game I love to do, and being able to call it my job.”
That passion has become a defining trait of the 24 year-old. When a Clipper fan thinks of hustle, they think of Montrezl Harrell; he knows that being the energy guy is his role.
“Whenever I’m out there on the floor that’s how I play,” Harrell said. “I leave it all out there on the floor, I compete for my teammates. Whatever we need to do: all the little things, the extra little possessions, the dirty work, that’s what I’m here to do.”
Harrell’s play isn’t infectious to only his teammates, it’s inspired Clipper Nation. During the beginning moments of the season, it seemed like Staples Center was a bit reserved. Fans didn’t know what type of team the Clippers would be. Were they going to be the fighters that they had promised, or just another team tanking for a high pick? Through the play of Harrell and other scrappy players, Clipper fans have learned what type of team to expect. That same hustle that energizes the crowd comes full circle and energizes Harrell.
“It’s amazing for me to be here, come into our arena, and display the hard work and passion I have for this game,” Harrell said. “To not only have my team feed off of it, but the crowd as well, I’m blessed.”
That crowd reaction has helped turn Los Angeles into Harrell’s new home. It’s a love that goes both ways.
“I love being here in the city of LA, and I’m glad they respond well to me,” Harrell said. “I can’t really say too much about it, because I get to see it myself. I get to listen to them chant, and yell for all the things I do and aggression I play with.”
Despite being a fan favorite among Clipper fans, Harrell is still a new face among NBA fans. His recent play against Golden State earned him the praise of being called the closest thing to Dennis Rodman from Stephen A. Smith. While he may be recently garnering praise from the national media, Harrell has a statement for NBA fans who may not know who he is.
“You’re going to get a guy who’s going to work on both ends of the floor,” Harrell said. “Someone who won’t take a possession off, and a guy who’s just going to leave it out there on the floor. I’m not going to be worked by anybody in front of me. It’s as simple as that.”