Hubbard: Clippers Fans Acting Like Owner Donald Sterling

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Donald SterlingOver the years, bashing the Clippers has hardly been an art form primarily because if anyone can do it, it’s not art.

As lousy of a history as the Clippers have had, they have always been an underground favorite of writers. At certain points of the season, most writers have some sort of burnout. When that happens, Clips owner Donald Sterling will inevitably do something absurd and, boom, you’ve got a column.

The wacky Sterling stories are so numerous that it’s difficult to pick a favorite one. But as I was researching some of the stories written on him with the goal of better understanding Clippers mentality, one that seemed to connect the present with the past involved Baron Davis.

Davis averaged 14.9 and 15.3 points, respectively, in his two seasons (2008-10) with the Clippers but made only 37 percent of his shots the first season and 41 percent the second. He had some injury problems and certainly did not have a strong supporting cast – as seasons of 19 and 29 wins would indicate – but he did not play as well as he had before getting a five-year, $65 million deal. Sterling soon became disenchanted.

150px-Baron_Davis_has_the_sadSo how did the owner distinguish himself in handling that unhappiness? Like no other owner would. According to Yahoo! Sports, Sterling began taunting Davis during games from courtside. From Yahoo!:

“Among Sterling’s verbal barbs . . . ‘Why are you in the game?’ . . . ‘Why did you take that shot?’ . . . ‘You’re out of shape!’”

Sterling apparently did not confine his ridicule to Davis and reportedly heckled some of his other players. But it is the rare owner who verbally attacks a player during a game.

While that was hardly Sterling’s strangest performance, perhaps it provides insight on what happened last week when the Rockets visited the Clippers. I’m not sure that I can scientifically prove that fans of any team adopt the traits of the team owner, but let’s just say Clippers fans did not distinguish themselves admirably on Monday night when Dwight Howard returned to Los Angeles for the first time since leaving the Lakers for the Rockets.

The Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984, so for 30 years they’ve been trying to establish a rivalry with the Lakers and have largely failed because they’ve been so lousy. But to build a rivalry, you can’t like the other team. Clippers fans are supposed to treat the Lakers like fans from the Cubs treat the White Sox, or fans of the Jets treat the Giants. You don’t root for the rival that you are supposed to despise.

But not Clippers fans. They booed Howard when he was introduced and each time he touched the ball, which tells you all you need to know about Clippers fans. They were booing the player who would have made their in-town rival better.

Some might argue that when Kobe Bryant returns, the presence of Howard would have made the Lakers superior to the Clippers – indeed, the Lakers managed to win the first game of the “hallway rivalry” by 13 points with no Bryant or Howard. So why were Clippers fans upset with Howard? They should be cheering him for leaving.

crystalNow, I understand that there was an element of city pride involved. It is difficult for an Angeleno to understand why someone would rather live anywhere else.

Houston? Please.

But it would have been far more sophisticated to cheer Howard. Think of the message that would have sent to the Lakers and their fans.

Great move, Dwight. And by the way Lakers, you suck.

Then again, when you have an owner who badgers his own players during a game, it may be a lot to expect for the fans as a whole to be any sharper.

These are supposed to be new times for the Clippers. They have the best talent in their history. Chris Paul, who is a transcendent player and leader, is in his third year with the team. Blake Griffin, still unrefined offensively but still a scoring machine, is an elite talent. And Doc Rivers provides coaching . . . and apparently common sense.

One of Rivers’ first acts was to have all Lakers championship banners and retired numbers to be covered during Clippers home games. Why have the Lakers’ success slap the Clippers in the face on their home court? You can bet if Rivers had been in the stands last week, he would have been leading the cheers for Howard, not booing.

But there is just something about the Clippers. You know how certain people are special because they have the “it” factor? Whatever the opposite of that is, the Clippers have it. They are the “non-its” of the sports world.

One of the stories I found about Sterling, who has had his share of ugly headlineshad to do when he bought the San Diego Clippers in 1981. One of his first promotions was an event that was billed as “The First Annual New Year’s Eve Luncheon.”

It was held on Jan. 7.

Sometimes, I guess, it’s difficult to get those dates straight. And apparently knowing which team to cheer for can also be a challenge . . . for some.


Jan Hubbard has written about basketball since 1976 and worked in the NBA league office for eight years between media stints. Follow him on Twitter at @whyhub.

SH Blog: Dirk “gets to sign and re-sign as often as he wants”; Baron Davis is “looking good”

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A year ago yesterday, Dwight Howard was finally traded. And now, I think we can comfortably say that the Magic won that deal. For one thing, they’re the only ones with any parts remaining, and at this point, the less said about the Lakers’ 2012-13 season, the better. Andre Iguodala is a Warrior, Andrew Bynum is a Cavalier (and of course, never saw the floor in Philly), and Dwight is in Houston. Even Earl Clark isn’t with the Lakers any more. The Magic maybe didn’t end up with Brook Lopez and everything else the Nets were offering, but they’ve got Mo Harkless, Nik Vucevic, and Arron Afflalo, which is three more quality players than the other three teams. It’s the rare win-lose-lose-lose deal, and maybe it’ll serve as caution for teams considering acquiring players on the last year of their deals, banking on the prospects of them re-signing, because none of the three established stars in that deal did.

This August doesn’t have the same intrigue as last year’s, but there’s still some news going on around the NBA, and as usual, I’m here to round it all up for you.

  • Kyrie Irving 2Kyrie Irving isn’t ready to say he’ll sign an extension with the Cavs, even for max money, according to Bob Finnan via Sulia: “Irving, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, wouldn’t commit to signing a max extension next summer with the Cavs. That doesn’t mean he won’t sign an extension. He just tip-toed around it when asked about it Saturday morning at the Kyrie Irving Basketball Pro-Camp at Independence High School. “I know it’s your job to ask about it, but I’m not really worried about that right now,” he said. “I’m going to focus on my third year and worry about that in the summertime.” He’s well aware that one of his peers, point guard John Wall, recently signed a five-year, $80 million extension with the Wizards. “I’m excited for him,” Irving said. “We grew up together coming up the ranks. We were both guys who weren’t rated at the top coming out of high school. We both burst onto the scene. He’s the first guy to get a max deal out of all of us who came through the AAU scene. It was surreal for him.” “

  • Here’s an excerpt from a Mark Cuban radio interview, via the Dallas Morning News: “Dirk’s got a no-trade deal, so whether it’s one year, three years, 20 years, it really doesn’t matter. He gets to sign and re-sign as often as he wants. The length of the contract is more about how long longer Dirk wants to play more than anything else. Particularly with a young kid, he’s gonna want to spend time, but he’s also going to want to get some sleep. I don’t see Dirk walking away from the game anytime soon. Dirk really wants to come back and send a message to everybody that he’s got a lot left. The thing about Dirk is he’s skill driven. He’s basketball-IQ driven, he’s wins driven. He’s not driven by athleticism. As long as he stays healthy, he could play for a long time.”
  • Toronto Raptors v Cleveland CavaliersTristan Thompson is making a change, writes Michael Grange of “The burgeoning Canadian NBA star, a left-handed shooter for his entire basketball career, has decided to use his right hand to shoot jump shots and free throws. The unusual – perhaps historic – switch has been months in the planning but had its competitive debut Thursday night in Canada’s 81-71 win over Jamaica in the first of two exhibition games between the two countries in advance of the 2013 FIBA Americas tournament. Midway through the third quarter of his first game with the Canadian national basketball team Thompson got the ball on the right side of the floor, faked left, drove right and took off for a dunk. He was met at the rim by Jamaica’s Samardo Samuels who got whistled for the foul. In itself it was a strong sequence as Thompson demonstrated he is a threat to go strong with his so-called weak hand. And then something remarkable happened: Thompson went to line, set up for his free throw and shot them right-handed as well – and a new phase in his basketball life began. “I think it’s the first time ever in NBA history,” Thompson said of the change, and he may be right.”
  • Here’s Andy Hutchins of Deadspin on Thompson’s change: “I’ve certainly never heard of a player changing his shot hand outside of a video game, and Thompson even wanting to attempt it is pretty impressive. The proof will be in the results, but Thompson was bad enough at shooting (under 40 percent from three feet and out in 2012-13, and just 36.3 percent on jumpers) before this switch that it almost can’t hurt. And, hell, shooting poorly with both hands would at least be a neat talent to have.”
  • Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe has this on Paul Pierce’s final camp in Boston… at least for now: “There was one camper donning a Paul Pierce Brooklyn jersey last week at what could be Pierce’s final local camp at Basketball City, in the shadow of his former residence, TD Garden. That’s it. One. After 15 years, Pierce was traded by the Celtics, a victim of the organization’s long-awaited rebuilding plan, a painful example of big business in the NBA. Inasmuch as Pierce and the Celtics wanted their marriage to end in retirement, it just couldn’t. Pierce spent last week working with kids who didn’t understand that business, wishing he was still a Celtic. Parents told him how much they would miss his step-back jumper and headband. It was an emotional week for Pierce but it also allowed him to bid farewell to his fans personally. “I’ve been spending a lot of time this summer in New York and coming back here, and the thing you get that’s tough is the reaction that I am getting from the kids and the parents,” he said. “That’s the tough part. I understand the realization of the trade, moving on now, but when you come back and you are around the kids and the parents and a lot of these kids grew up in the camp for years, you see their reaction. That’s the tough part for me.” “
  • LeBron JamesCould LeBron James head the NBPA? According to Brian Windhorst of, he’s considering it: “LeBron James said the National Basketball Players Association is “not in a good place right now” and that’s why he’s considering running for the union’s vacant presidency. “I just think the union is going backwards, and it’s not in a good place right now,” James said Saturday in an interview with ESPN after an event for his foundation at which he gave away hundreds of bicycles and tablet computers to underprivileged children in his hometown. I think my voice could be huge in that situation.” The players’ union has been under scrutiny from its members following a 2011 collective bargaining agreement that saw the players give back significant revenue to ownership followed by a scandal involving former executive director Billy Hunter’s use of union funds. Hunter was fired earlier this year, and president Derek Fisher’s term ended this summer. If elected, James would be the most high-profile star to lead the union since Patrick Ewing held the role more than 15 years ago. But with so many demands on his time, James hasn’t decided whether he’ll officially run. The union’s summer meeting is later this month in Las Vegas.”


Dan Malone is about to begin his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

The NBA Offseason: A Betting Preview

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The Dwight Howard signing had a humongous effect on the futures market for who will win the NBA title.

And then it started a trickle-down effect.

The 10 Strangest NBA Moments of July

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WeirdAlThe month of July is typically an awkward one for NBA fans.

We’re fresh off the NBA Finals and the NBA Draft, but suddenly realizing that there won’t be any legitimate competition played for the next three months.

Of course, as with any NBA summer vacation, there are plenty of things happening with player movement and free agency, but also incidents of the more peculiar variety.

Deals are made, teams are transformed, and players find themselves with a bit too much free time on their hands. And in this age of the never-ending 24/7 news cycle, the explosion of social media and the public’s insatiable thirst for a sip of something different, the month that just ended did not disappoint.

Which brings us to our list of the “10 Strangest NBA Things That Happened In July,” because basketball doesn’t stop –and neither do any of the shenanigans that often come with it.

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SH Blog: Pierce convinced Garnett to leave Boston, Wiggins wants to play for Raptors


2010-01-01 00.00.00-9After weeks of knowing that the trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry would join the Brooklyn Nets, they were finally introduced at the Barclays Center on Thursday afternoon.

While all the reports were out on how everything came about and what pieces were needed to successfully get a blockbuster deal done between the Nets and the Boston Celtics, there was never an opportunity to hear how the trio coming from Boston really felt about what went down. 

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