The Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors used to fight to stay out of the Pacific Division cellar, and their most heated stare downs usually came in mid-May, when the two franchises would lock horns at the NBA’s draft lottery, hoping for the right combination and the right draft pick.
Things are different now, with both teams shooting for the Pacific Division crown that Los Angeles won last year, as both squads have a genuine shot at taking the Western conference finals in June. As a result, enmity is in the air, as evidenced by this shoving match between W’s center Andrew Bogut and Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan in the Clippers’ 126-115 win from Thursday night. Prior to that bout, though, the Clippers drew an unheard of line in the sand between themselves and the Warriors, distancing themselves from their opponents during pregame chapel services.
That’s right. The Clippers declined to even pray with the Warriors … because, y’know, basketball I guess. From Marcus Thompson at the Contra Costa Times:
It’s a long-standing tradition for Christians on both teams to have chapel together. Each NBA arena offers this service to the players, and there is usually one time and one room.
That wasn’t the case Thursday.
According to multiple sources, the Warriors were surprisingly given a separate, earlier, time for their own chapel services. The Clippers held their own private chapel.
“Man, they don’t want to have chapel with us?” one team source asked. “I never heard that before, but OK.”
Thompson went on to detail that the Clippers’ dislike of the Warriors was fostered last season when Golden State took three of four from Los Angeles, meetings that were punctuated by spirited bench routines and bouts of gesticulating that were far too much for the Clippers’ tastes. That’s the guess, at least.
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And again, just as was the case with the Bogut/Jordan shoves …
… all of this came before the snippy back and forth that was the Clippers’ win on Thursday. Like the confrontation between Clipper forward Blake Griffin and Warriors coach Mark Jackson:
We get it. The teams aren’t supposed to be friendly, they’re both shooting for the same prize, and the prayers that used to go to sending the top pick in the draft their particular ways are now going to a different cause. And after the Clippers were embarrassed by a lacking Los Angeles Lakers team in their opener on Tuesday, it’s possible that Doc Rivers got his team riled up as they set to take on a true division rival – something the Lakers most certainly are not.
The point of prayer before a game is to recognize that there is something bigger than the game, and something larger at stake. The point of chapel services prior to a contest is to recognize the humanity underneath that other guy’s uniform, and to show humility prior to something that can pump the ego and inflame the senses.
The Warriors preen quite a bit. And the team’s sometimes showy sanctimony can enervate. We’re not fans of it.
The Clippers were still off, here. It’s just a game, guys.
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