Ever since they acquired Chris Paul in December 2011, the Los Angeles Clippers have been one of the more polarizing teams in the NBA. But recently, it seems the league-wide opinion on them has trended more towards hate.
Initially, some saw the once-in-a-generation brilliance of Chris Paul, the annual development of Blake Griffin and the athletic dominance of DeAndre Jordan as captivating. The Clippers have been one of the better offensive units under Paul’s command, and with their Lob City aerial assaults, fun to watch.
Others, though, saw a roster filled with entitlement and arrogance. The Clippers have an unsightly habit of complaining on seemingly every possessions — for fouls called on them and for non-calls that they didn’t get. The incessant complaining and flopping, along with their predisposition to showboat when leading, rubbed many the wrong way.
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This latter viewpoint seems to be the way the NBA is tilting, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck detailed in his latest column. There is no way around it: The Clippers are the most hated team in the league. Period.
As Beck points out, everyone hates the Clips: "players, coaches, scouts, owners, executives, scalpers, ushers, popcorn vendors." It’s not just their rivals, like the Golden State Warriors or Memphis Grizzlies or Sacramento Kings or Phoenix Suns (the list can keep going). It’s everyone, according to Beck:
This is not a debate in NBA circles. The Clippers are not a hated team or among the most hated, one option on a multiple-choice quiz. They are the hated team.
“The most hated team by far,” said a veteran NBA coach, speaking for, well, everyone.
“Something about them,” said a longtime team executive. “It's just an irritant.”
In this season of joy and giving, the Clippers are the lump of coal in your NBA logo socks, the hair in your eggnog.
But why? It’s not as if they’re some brutish team that takes cheap shots, or a thuggish squad with troublemakers. For the most part, the Clippers have sterling off-court reputations. Their players aren’t dirty (though some say Paul is). So what is it? Is it simply the flopping and complaining? The antics?
Well, above all else, opponents and critics hate the complaining. Hate it. And not just from Paul and Griffin, the two most obvious offenders. But from coach Doc Rivers, too:
“When I took the job here, I remember literally hearing from a couple refs: 'Oh my God,'” Rivers told B/R. “'You're going to the team that clearly complains more than any team in the NBA by far.'”
Rivers doesn't just lobby the referees. According to a person with an up-close view, Rivers essentially “refs the game, from start to finish.” This is not to say that Rivers is vicious or obnoxious or overly aggressive—just unfailingly, relentlessly vocal with his viewpoint.
“I don’t b—-,” Rivers insisted. “I just talk all game to the refs. Some look at it as b—-ing, but that's just my personality.”
There are some benefits, as Beck claims. Despite leading the league in technical fouls since Rivers arrived (146), their opponents have also been whistled for the most techs during that time span (110). The Clippers know how to frustrate the opposition, and that they do.
Their epic playoff collapses have only fueled the fire, as the team has yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs, yet often acts as if they are the defending champions with the way they work the refs and gloat on the floor.
From the physical specimen that is Blake Griffin flopping, to the out-of-sight trickery from Chris Paul that borders on dirty, to Doc Rivers’ incessant need to work the refs, the Clippers bother just about everybody.