It is a rivalry.
When the Warriors and Clippers face off at Oracle Arena on Thursday, there will be playoff intensity — on the floor and in the stands. There will be trash talk, a certain amount of chippiness, a palpable sense of enmity.
Unless you’re Mark Jackson.
“Forgive me,” the Warriors coach said Wednesday. “I was raised on Magic and Bird. Lakers and Celtics. Yankees and Red Sox. Real rivalries. So let’s pump the brakes a little bit.”
True, Warriors-Clippers hasn’t reached that level. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a rivalry.
This is a rivalry, and a good one. Even without Chris Paul — the Clippers’ star guard and chief rabble-rouser is injured — the game Thursday night will feel like a rivalry.
That Jackson won’t call it a rivalry — and he’s not alone among Warriors and Clippers — could be another indicator of the dislike these teams share. Neither is willing to admit it cares that much about the other.
Warriors-Clippers hasn’t yet produced a game that grandfathers will tell future generations. But the matchup has all the markings of a growing rivalry: Good teams. Popular players. A common goal. Geographic proximity. And, most important, drama that seems to build on itself at every meeting.
It started in November of 2012 when the Warriors won in L.A. and celebrated a little too much for the Clippers’ liking. Paul said the Warriors acted as if “they won the Finals.”
The next time the teams met, in Oakland, the Warriors won again. Stephen Curry hit a big 3-pointer and celebrated by galloping downcourt. The only thing that angered the Clippers more was the Golden State bench openly laughing when Blake Griffin took a shot that hit the side of the backboard.
The teams completed their season series in January — the Warriors winning three of four — but the ensuing 10-month hiatus hardly served as a cooling-off period. On the second night of the 2013-2014 season, the Warriors traveled to L.A., and the bad blood was in evidence before the teams even took the floor. A pregame Bible study, usually a joint venture, was broken in two at the Clippers’ request. Once on the floor, the teams got in a scuffle, Andrew Bogut and DeAndre Jordan engaging in a shoving match.
There was another scuffle when the teams met again, on Christmas Day in Oakland — two scuffles in fact. Draymond Green was ejected after an incident with Griffin. Griffin was ejected after an incident with Bogut. Then Bogut and Paul punctuated the Warriors’ win with more pushing and shoving.
The NBA nation was buzzing about Clippers-Warriors. And now, we eagerly anticipate Round 3 on Thursday night in Oakland.
– Marcus Thompson II, San Jose Mercury News
Weather, weather. It’s on our minds, not just here in parched Northern California (where those of us who have lived through months of not flushing and interrupted – rinse, lather, rinse – showers would like to punch the next person who says, “Isn’t this weather bee-you-tiful?”). Weather is also the big topic in the sports world.
Why? Not because of global warming. Because of a more sinister plague: Sports Stupidity, born of avarice and vanity.
— The Super Bowl is clearly in the wrong place. Though forecasts for Super Bowl Sunday have improved (to the consternation of everyone who would like to see CommissionerRoger Goodell humbled), it will still be bitterly cold. Projections are for a high near 40, though with local kickoff at 6:30 p.m. it will be significantly colder and probably windy. It will be nasty. But Goodell wanted to showcase his empire. So let it be written, so let it be done.
— Even if we don’t get the game-time foot of snow that all of us are secretly hoping for, it will still be colder in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sunday than it has been in Sochi, Russia, site of the Winter Olympics. Sochi has been in the mid-50s, and journalists landing from the frosty United States are reporting that they over-packed. The weather will be the least of visitors’ worries in scary Sochi, but is the most visible sign of the folly of the IOC in awarding its winter jewel to Vladimir Putin’s subtropical resort.
“You’d have to spend a long time searching the map of this huge country to find someplace with no snow,” said Boris Nemstov of the Russian Opposition Coordination Council. “Putin found it.”
– Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
One of the things most of us like about the NFL is that games are played in all kinds of weather. These are tough men, and we appreciate that they’re required to play in tough — or even brutal — conditions.
It seems perfectly rational in that respect. We love the NFL for a million reasons, and this is absolutely one of them.
So why do so many of us have less than rational reasons for actively hoping the weather come Sunday for the Super Bowl is downright hellacious?
Check that. We’re hoping it’s beyond hellacious. Like, to the point of adversely and immensely impacting the outcome of the league’s biggest game. To the point of causing this league we love in a million ways nothing less than abject, public embarrassment.
Why? Well, it doesn’t take a psych degree to analyze. And the answer is about as deep as a Kelly Osbourne interview: We, as a people, generally disdain flat stupidity.
Is this not one of the dumbest ideas in recent sports history? Yes, it is.
This is the Super Bowl, not Packer-Bears in late December. We get off on Packers-Bears in late December because it’s gives us an example, proof, that the NFL is as tough as we want and need it to be. But we don’t want or need any such proof when the league takes the biggest sports-and-entertainment stage in the world.
What we want and need are ideal conditions in which the two best, battle-tested teams in the league we love in a million ways get to lock horns and have a reasonable shot at playing at the highest level of execution possible.
The worst possible conditions, it stands to reason, would prevent the league we love in a million ways to ever again give us even the slightest reason to love it less.
– Mychael Urban, San Francisco Examiner