Jermaine O’Neal is in his 18th NBA season, and has had his share of dust-ups over the years.
He also has been around long enough to have a firm perception of what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior between opponents on the court, which by itself may explain why he chose to wait for Blake Griffin outside the Clippers locker room following a loss in L.A. earlier this week.
But O’Neal elaborated anyway, essentially saying that Griffin committed an unspecified act of basketball treason that somehow crossed the line.
“It was some things that were said,” O’Neal said after the team’s Friday morning shootaround, “and in this league you want to put clearance to it. And we did. After the game, it felt like it was appropriate to address.” …
“It’s understood what the line is,” O’Neal said. “We’re paid to be basketball players and to play the game the right way and do things the right way. And when you cross the line in saying things and doing things, you address it and you move on. We’ve moved on.” …
“Sometimes things happen during games or things are said during games that shouldn’t necessarily be said or done,” he said. “But then as men, you talk about it. You shake on it and move on. I don’t have any animosity toward him, hopefully he doesn’t have any animosity toward me and hopefully that’s it.”
Plenty of players have gotten upset playing against Griffin, who is monstrously physical himself and almost never reacts to hard fouls or excessive contact unless punches are thrown.
Griffin’s initial response to O’Neal was to tell him to “leave that s— on the court,” before the two briefly shook hands.
We’ll never know exactly what went down here, or whether Griffin’s alleged infraction was verbal or physical. But whatever did happen was substantial enough for O’Neal to feel the need to address it.