And so it wasn’t to be at the first time of asking for the Los Angeles Clippers. The team who have been writing stories and making comebacks all season long couldn’t ride the wave of Paul George and Norman Powell’s returns far enough to secure the seventh seed. They of course still have another chance at making it into the playoffs, a position few of us would’ve dreamed they’d be in as star after star was hit by injury or illness. Now though they’ll have to fight knowing that it’s win or go home — although that’s a position this squad are more than familiar with being in and succeeding. It’s just one of the many stories they like to tell.
On the other side Tuesday night was a player who has been more than familiar with that never-say-die attitude of the Clippers. In fact, you could argue he was one of the pillars upon which it was built. Patrick Beverley showed all the best aspects of his on-court personality that made him so adored by Clipper Nation and hated by those he came up against. Unfortunately, our guys had to come up against it and it didn’t feel good (though the nostalgia it brought back may have triggered some wry smiles among our supporters.)
The Beverley story is now a well known one; cut by the Lakers after being drafted in the second round, spending a few years in Europe grinding to get back into the league, before securing his NBA return with the Houston Rockets and growing almost every year since. However, the latest twist in the tale was an unfortunate one for fans of the feisty guard in a Clippers jersey. Though his final season with the team ended in him being ejected for a shove on former fan favourite Chris Paul, he’d been one of the key components of the turnaround that had taken place under the stewardship of Tyronn Lue. That’s why it came as a shock when he was given an unsatisfactory contract extension offer and subsequently traded, after becoming quickly disillusioned with the lack of reward for his years or service.
Unfortunately though, as the front office continued to move away from the core of Pat, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, they continually reminded us that basketball is ultimately a business. Well, Harrell’s choice was his own and very few fans will have looked back in anger at that particular parting of ways. Lou and Pat were different stories altogether. Both were beloved members of Clipper Nation and had shown more than enough to suggest they could still be a part of the new era — Beverley especially, given the extra time he had on Williams.
It’s understandable then that Pat would have a sour taste in his mouth as he felt he had to part ways from an organisation that he said himself he’d poured “blood, sweat and tears” into. More than that though, it added more fuel to his fire of being determined to prove people wrong. We saw it ourselves every time he stepped on the court at the arena formerly known as STAPLES Center. Proving the Lakers wrong for cutting him, proving anybody else who doubted whether he should be in the league wrong, proving Russell Westbrook wrong for claiming “he tricked y’all” and now proving the Clippers front office wrong for thinking he wasn’t worth the money.
Critics may think that Beverley and the Minnesota Timberwolves milked their celebrations considering they were already the seventh seed and merely secured that status with a win, but the above shows why it meant so much to Pat in particular. Yes, some may feel bitter about his antics after the game but that’s just authenticity from the character we all loved when he repped our side. Don’t expect him to change now for anybody.
Patrick Beverley didn’t get the extension he wanted from the Clippers.— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 13, 2022
He just led the Wolves to a win against his former team and celebrates. pic.twitter.com/zkoPjgpZtd
Coach Lue said after the loss: “He just brings some toughness. He brings some energy. Just whatever it takes to win. He’s not worried about stats. He’s just worried about winning… He’s a big reason why this team is successful this year. I just think the mentality he brought over here has changed the team… That’s what he does. He’s been with us here forever. We knew that coming into the game. We didn’t handle it well. But whatever.”
Paul George even went as far as to say he loved Beverley’s antics and missed them, and the Clippers certainly did on the night — not least for how much it boosted the Timberwolves players and fans.
“I wanted this so bad. I wanted this one so bad. This is just the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, play-in to be able to beat them. It means another goal scratched off. I told you we was going to the Playoffs. Everybody, most of all of y’all, looked at me like I was crazy when I first said that. I fucking told you all.”
He did. Nobody could stand in his way, not least the team whose spirit was built in his image.