The Clippers-Warriors Rivalry That Isn’t

VIDEO: The Clippers and Warriors face off and get a little testy

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OAKLAND, Calif. – “Cowardly basketball,” is what Clipper Blake Griffin called the Warriors’ tactics more than once, inflamed all the way to doubling down to a “cowardly, cowardly basketball” throwdown.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, diplomatically but with obvious missile lock, chose the phrasing that Golden State “went to something else,” as in something else besides “the basketball part of it.”

Klay Thompson, of the Warriors, asked if things are extra heated between the California teams, said, “Obviously. You saw it out there.”

And yet several of the participants were still very clear after Wednesday when talking about a “rivalry; after the second meeting of the season became a second night of tension; after Draymond Green was ejected on a Flagrant 2 and Griffin with two technicals; and even after the sides nearly scuffled on the court post-game, and Matt Barnes tried to check Andrew Bogut from behind into the boards.

No, came the counter — Clippers-Warriors is not a rivalry.

The storyline carried over into Thursday, when the league announced that Griffin should not have been given the second technical and kicked out with 10:43 remaining of what became a two-point loss for the Clippers. The correct call, said Rod Thorn, the NBA president of basketball operations, would have been a common foul on Griffin and a technical on Bogut for “grabbing Griffin by the shirt and wrestling with him.”

It will have to do as a Clippers consolation prize. The conversation about a rivalry, meanwhile, is semantics more than anything, and sensible definitions at that. The best hate is brewed in a playoff cauldron, looking across the line four to seven times in a row and knowing something real is at stake that two games before New Year’s can’t come within a galaxy of matching. Golden State and Los Angeles haven’t lived that. More specifically, as the key point of Warriors coach Mark Jackson, they haven’t really lived at all. These are two teams trying to make it out of the second round, not exactly Celtics-Showtime Lakers or Bulls-Bad Boy Pistons, or even New York-Indiana, “Knicks vs. Hicks,” that Jackson played in.

“It was a tough, hard-fought game, but I still believe this isn’t a rivalry because neither one of us have done anything,” Jackson said after Golden State’s 105-103 victory at Oracle Arena on Christmas night. “It was two teams playing with an edge competing against each other. Just a hard-fought game.”

Or maybe a little more.

“Instead of just playing straight up and playing a game, it got into a little something more than that,” Griffin said. “It’s unfortunate because you want to play a team head-to-head. You don’t want to start playing other games and cowardly basketball,” saying another time, “To me, that’s cowardly, cowardly basketball.”

“Well,” Rivers said, “I don’t think it was us tonight. Honestly, I thought we were kicking their butts and they went to something else, to be honest. But that’s fine. We have to have better composure and just keep playing. There’s no doubt about that. But I thought in the basketball part of it, we were showing them pretty well. All the other stuff worked in their favor, so it’s a smart thing for them to do. That’s fine.”

Clippers-Warriors has become a two-day story, with more sure to follow, before Jan. 30 and then in that meeting in Oakland and also, depending how the night at Oracle goes, March 12 in Los Angeles in the final regular-season showdown. Or choose another word than showdown. A lot of this is semantics, after all.

25 Comments

  1. slider821 says:

    there were definitely elbows throw that should not have been thrown in the game of basketball. However, if the refs had called it correctly, a common foul on BG and a flag1 on bogut, BG would not have been thrown out and it would have just been another day between these two heated teams. no one would be talking about it.

    whether it was intentional or not is all speculation from everyone except bogut and possibly mark jackson. the high elows, the jersey grabbing…these two teams, and specifically the bigs on BOTH teams have been doing this to eachother for the last 2 years. The issue is that the refs called it incorrectly and significantly changed the game with BG getting ejected because of it.

  2. vera says:

    this is how the bigboys play. man if you think these kind of “phisicality” doesn’t happen in basketball, probably you really haven’t played it at all. im neither a fan of both teams but it’s too childish of blake to cry like a baby. he should have been smart enough. he’s playing with the pros not in HS.

  3. D-Rose says:

    If you thinks it was a smart play, you just don’t like the game of basketball. Go watch wrestlemania or something, if you like that stuff.

  4. patrickmarc says:

    Blake G and Chris Paul, both stupid.

  5. marty09 says:

    Love it physical! I didn’t see much in it. BG needs to toughen up and play like an all-star player, not an all-star showman.

  6. Warriors says:

    BG is kind of a wimp for calling it “cowardly basketball.” I mean come on, your team lost take it like a man. He’s soft that’s why everyone provokes him

  7. drforrester says:

    As Mark Jackson said, this is not a rivalry. They are two teams with a history of being the NBA’s whipping boys who only recently (past few years) have something worth playing for. Tensions are going to run high. I’m looking forward to the next game between them. Go Dubs!

  8. LBJ endorses says:

    King James endorses flopping as it’s just doing whatever it takes to give the team an advantage. BG is an avid flopper too. So he should know this episode is all about the warriors trying to get an edge over clips. Same goes for him flopping and causing an opponent to foul out. He’s the dumb one for playing to their tune. Lol

  9. Pd says:

    Warriors bigs played dirty … I’ve played organized ball and it does get physical in the box but arms and elbows above the shoulder is cheap play … That’s what bogut, lee, and green started doing when griffin was getting his way in he post … Straight forearm to the neck is obviously a cheap shot … Got their crowd going and gave the warriors energy … So they came back cause they started playing dirty ball … Doc rivers was spot on … Mark Jackson tried to play it down but he played for the Knicks during the Jordan era so he knows what dirty play is all about

  10. Harper says:

    Am I the only one who viewed the Griffin/Bogut scuffle and noticed Griffin’s forearm was bent in an odd and obviously painful position?! Thus prompting the response from Griffin that Bogut’s foul was considered “Cowardly Basketball.

  11. Brendan says:

    go clippers not sure y everyone does this stuff to bg but its getting old and I feel like clips almost need to overreact so teams will cut this stuff out. but way to keep a level head guys and props to cp3 having the pg go after the other teams big is priceless. I just want them to let them hash it out like hockey but after what happened in Detroit I understand y they dont

  12. Shawn says:

    Why does the NBA and it’s teams down play the idea of a “rivalry”? They hold it up like there is some huge thing that constitutes what a rivalry is, when in fact the actual definition of a rivalry is “competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field”. In my opinion the NBA and sports in general should embrace the idea of rivalry as oppose to constantly running away from it.

  13. Bogut says:

    Blake Grifin plays dirty. The warriors area team that does not back down. Remember DeAndre Jordan acting tough against Bogut. Comon, all of you that side with the clippers probably have never played organized basketball. Elbows, shoving, and physical play is part of the game. Clippers try to showboat too much no act tough but they have to keep in mind not all teams will fall prey.

    • ripcity says:

      Lol but your boys seem to be fond of elbows to the throat. That’s not physical play, those are cheap shots.

    • skrutz says:

      Well, its a part, to an extent. The main outrage is that it wasnt physical play, it was them intentionally trying to get him kicked out. And Bogut holding his jersey, theres NO WAY that was a mature move, it was like a 5 year old not getting his way.

      The refs go it very, very wrong, and the game was thrown, with GS getting away with cheap (not “tough”) play. Thats what has people upset!

      • ripcity says:

        Agreed, Bogut got what he wanted and Doc and Blake were spot on about what happened (and I don’t even like the Clips).

        And Andy Boy: We got March 16th circled on our calendar up here in Portland, can’t wait to host you ;)

      • EARL says:

        Think about it, who played it smarter? It’s tactics.

  14. Laylow says:

    As a fan of neither, this is an interesting future matchup.

  15. james says:

    Definitely Cowardly basketball that GSW played. But Blake Griffin should act smarter than that. it’s a good lesson for him
    to know how much he is a good player and how much he would be targeted by jealous players, so he needs to react to
    any cowardly plan with a smarter tactic.

  16. okc2014 says:

    Although I have always maintained and believe Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are overrated, I think GSW played dirty last night. I just don’t understand why other players like to provoke Blake Griffin. He’s a great basketball player with lots of potential and possibly players are just plain jealous of him. That stinks that they drink haterade.

    • allaroundballer says:

      Clippers will crush them next time, that kind of play just gonna motivating clippers to react better. I respect grizzlies more because they’re the tough one, the real rivalry. Warriors were just loosing their fun game and then tried something else

      • E says:

        Warriors didn’t plan that. Stop making excuses for the lost. Yall had a chance to beat us yall up like 15 and we came back and played D. Plus Chris Paul missed a lay up and Jamal Crawford missed a open look game winner. Griffin shouldn’t be talking cowardly he flops that’s cowardly. Face we out played yall at the end plain and simple.

      • Caldron Pool says:

        @E Warriors got desperate when they went down big time so they got dirty and cheap. They can’t run with the Clippers so they had to get desperate. The league even admitted the Clips got screwed. Warriors are just jealous cause they’re not legit. Keep rockin’ that 8 seed. “Y’all ain’t even makin’ no playoffs anyway boy. Don’t be hatin’ cause big Griff is rolling and has more game than your boys.”

    • baller says:

      Caldron Pool, come back to us once you’ve made it out of the first round..

  17. I agree that this is not a rivalry, more like just bad blood, especially because they haven’t even met in the playoffs yet.