On July 21, DeAndre Jordan used his own words to spell out why he decided to go back on a verbal commitment to the Dallas Mavericks and re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s a road we’ve been down a lot since that decision, and frankly Jordan didn’t break any new ground.
But it’s also only half the story from that wild Tuesday and Wednesday in July.
The other half of the story was on social media, where there were reports of the Clipper standing guard with Jordan in his house and Mark Cuban driving around and freaking out. Social media — Twitter, mostly — got that wrong, Blake Griffin wrote in an article for the Players’ Tribune.
Well, not the chicken fingers part, that was spot on. But the rest of it.
For most of Wednesday, July 8, a lot of the information coming from social media on DeAndre Jordan’s contract talks was pretty far off-base. When we woke up that morning, a few of the Clippers players and staff took a charter bus to a hotel, to meet with DeAndre. It was the business stuff — the pitch, or re-pitch in this case. I jokingly tweeted a photo of Hawaii, and some emojis of a plane, helicopter and a car in response to Chandler Parsons’ airplane tweet. But the truth is that I was already in Houston. DeAndre had been having doubts about his decision to go to Dallas since Monday.
By Tuesday morning, I knew he was really struggling with it. He really didn’t want to disappoint people, but I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. We text every day. It’s not always about basketball. Mostly it’s about life. I’m his friend above all else. I stuffed some clothes into a bag, ran through LAX and got on the first flight to Houston. My intention wasn’t to go down and sell DeAndre on the Clippers. We promised each other a long time ago that we’d never do that stuff. I just wanted to be there for my friend and hear him out….
By Wednesday morning, when the emojis started flying everywhere, the headlines were: CLIPPERS DESCEND ON HOUSTON. DEANDRE LOCKED IN HOME. CHRIS PAUL ABSENT FROM MEETING. MARK CUBAN DRIVING AROUND HOUSTON SEARCHING FOR DEANDRE.
All of it was wrong. When people were tweeting “Sources: Clippers to meet with DeAndre in the next 3 hours,” we were already back at DeAndre’s house and I was nodding off watching a Clippers Summer League game on the couch. When I woke up an hour later with drool on the pillow, my phone was a bloodbath of notifications. People were literally tweeting things like, “DeAndre is a grown-ass man! Stop holding him hostage!” and “You should all be arrested for this! I’m calling the cops!”
To be honest, the whole thing was pretty boring. It was like a super laid back family party. Some people were watching TV. Some people were playing video games. After a while, I hopped in the car and drove aimlessly around Houston for an hour just to kill time. When I got back to the house, we were sitting around waiting for 11 p.m. so DeAndre could officially sign.
What had social media gotten right? The players were eating Raising Cane’s chicken fingers. Jordan’s mom had brought a bunch back to Jordan’s house.
In the end, I don’t think Mavs or Clippers fans care how it went down, they care about the outcome. But from the outside, this kind of change of heart — from a first-team All-NBA Defensive Team center and elite free agent — is beyond rare. It was dramatic, it changed two teams dramatically and the shape of the Western Conference completely. And Twitter was made for drama.
Even if it doesn’t get all the details right.