Patrick Beverley has made his presence felt in the Clippers’ first-round series against Golden State.
Beverley has averaged 9.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game, while shooting 43 percent from three. Perhaps more importantly, he has embraced the challenge of guarding Kevin Durant, who easily has 10 inches on him, while bringing the requisite energy LA needs on the glass, and just in general, to challenge the two-time defending champions.
It’s not hard to figure out where that hustle comes from after listening to Beverley on the latest episode of the KnuckleHeads podcast, hosted by former Clippers Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. Beverley discussed his background and how that has made him the player he is today. All three of Richardson, Miles, and Beverley grew up in Illinois, so they have a lot of shared experiences that bind them together, in addition to being part of the Clipper family.
Growing up in Chicago, there was a lot that Beverley had to deal with outside of just playing basketball, which made being on the court easy for him. He said, “I think the hard part for a lot of basketball players are the mental preparations for games.... I’ve been through worse.”
Basketball meant the world to him. When he got suspended for his senior year at Arkansas, it was inconceivable to not be able to play. Beverley had just had his son, so he decided to go pro, and because the NBA draft had already passed, that meant going to Europe.
“You can take clothes from me, you can take money away from me, you can take shoes, but you take that ball — that’s a different monster,” Beverley said on the podcast.
From getting suspended to selling drugs to support his family, @patbev21 opens up about his NBA journey.— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) April 25, 2019
: https://t.co/ZyWXxhSVbO pic.twitter.com/tH82i52Zwv
In Europe, Beverley had the same focus and motivation that Clippers fans have come to love in his time in Los Angeles. His lone goal was to make the NBA, so he didn’t even really experience what it was like to live in Ukraine or Russia.
When he finally got to the league, he remembers that moment clearly. His first game came against the Clippers, and he got a steal off of Jamal Crawford and hit a corner three on the ensuing possession.
Q-Rich and Miles asked Beverley a lot about his mentality, and how he feels about his reputation as a rugged defender, one who isn’t afraid to get under his opponents’ skin.
“Mr. 94 feet, I embrace that,” Beverley said. “I feel like my wheel is bigger than anyone else’s, so consecutively you might beat me 100 times, but that time I need to get a stop, i’m going to go get a stop because I want it way more than anybody else.”
“If my job is to come in and muck the game up, my job is to lock him down and make it hard for him, and I don’t score no buckets but we win? Everybody eatin’.”
It seemed like this episode was recorded before the start of the postseason, because Beverley spoke casually about facing Steph Curry (who he doesn’t trash talk, because there are people you pick your battles with), and how the Clippers were ready to go toe-to-toe with Golden State, Houston or Denver.
Beverley also showed more respect for Durant than you might expect for the middle of a playoff series, but also threw in some love for Lou Williams in the process.
Who does Pat Beverly think is a walking bucket?!....a couple of bucket getters of course! #KnuckleHeads #KnuckleUp ✊ ✊ pic.twitter.com/JqcOeAXjw8— Quentin Richardson (@QRich) April 25, 2019
Maybe the best part of the podcast was listening to the three men talk about their connection to the Clippers organization, even now, long after Richardson and Miles stopped playing.
Richardson commended the whole team for fighting so hard this season and sending Ralph Lawler out in style, and Miles told Beverley, “To see you on the Clippers with the blue and red, it looks good, just to see another Illinois cat.”
The admiration goes both ways as Beverley thanked the pair for setting an example as players who could showcase their personalities, something he clearly takes advantage of today.
“I don’t know if people understand what y’all did for the game with this [the head tap]. Not only did you represent but you were able to be yourself,” Beverley said. “Y‘all opened that door for people to be themselves.”
The podcast goes into way more detail about how Beverley plays defense, why he wears no. 21, their memories of players who grew up with them in Chicago, playing for Doc Rivers, and much more. As someone who loved D-Miles and Q-Rich from the days of the Baby Clippers, it was great to hear Beverley have the same affection for both of them, and the whole episode is worth a listen.
Essentially everything Beverley says has manifested itself on the court these last five games. Regardless of who is on the other end of the floor, as LA’s leader puts it, “we really don’t care, anybody can get some of this smoke.”