The age of social media has totally changed the face of sports and the discourse that surrounds it. It has allowed us unprecedented access to our favourite athletes, giving fans the ability to interact with players and one another. At its best it can be great, but it can also manifest in some ugly ways. Russell Westbrook recently revealed that his family had received death threats, as people continue to throw hate his way for his performances on the court. It’s a sad state of affairs when guys no longer feel like they can bring their family to games as online abuse goes too far.
However, sometimes interactions happen that restore your faith in the platform and remind you why any of us bother to log on as much as we do. The particular series of tweets that stole my heart came between Nicolas Batum and one of the Los Angeles Clippers’ most recent recruits, Robert Covington. After the team’s 4th straight win on a back-to-back against Houston, the former Blazer told the media: “At one point, I was ready to walk away from this game. I really did a lot of groundwork with myself to have fun with it.” In response to journalist Farbod Esnaashari tweeting the quote, Batum replied: “I’ve been there brother, glad you on the team and you didn’t give up.” Covington in turn responded: “Appreciate that my guy and I’m glad you ain’t give up either brodie. Now let’s continue to work and push forward.”
Appreciate that my guy and I’m glad you ain’t give up either brodie. Now let’s continue to work and push forward— Robert Covington (@Holla_At_Rob33) March 2, 2022
It was a heartfelt moment between two great players who have both found themselves on the brink of giving up on basketball in the past. For Batum, he found himself pondering a future outside of the NBA after being benched by the Hornets on a max contract and being left to wonder whether he could still make an impact on another team after five years in Charlotte. Fortunately for the Clippers, the Frenchman picked himself up off the mat, took the veteran’s minimum to relocate to Los Angeles and hasn’t looked back since. He’s become a crucial cog in the team on both ends of the floor and displayed the full extent of his versatility by running small-ball center to great effect during last season’s historic playoff run.
Covington had those same thoughts and feelings as injury continued to curtail his career while playing in Minnesota, and was struggling to find a place he could call home long before he found himself in Los Angeles. While the move to the Clippers wasn’t necessarily the same saving grace that it was for Batum, it is clear to see that RoCo is enjoying being on the team and has fallen in love with playing basketball again. He’s also been effective for the team on both ends of the floor, following up his claim to having the “fastest hands in the league” by racking up the steals and even dropping 18 points the other night against the Utah Jazz. In fact, Ty Lue has gone as far as to liken having the 31-year-old on the team to having “two Nicos”, which is about as big a compliment as you could pay given the Frenchman’s influence on this squad.
Having all but secured their spot as a play-in team, the Clippers will need their vets to continue to step up in order to get themselves into the playoffs. With the humility of guys like Batum and Covington around, coupled with the attributes each of them brings on the offensive and defensive end, you can bet that this group won’t take anything for granted and will work as hard as possible to reach the ultimate goal. It’s stories like theirs that restore your faith in humanity and remind us why we love this sport so much.