You’ve read the title, now stop and take a big, fat grain of salt.
According to Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers, the team had significant internal dysfunction thanks to the relationship between Blake Griffin and Chris Paul due to leadership conflict and general irritability.
This came to the surface during a recent piece by the master Lee Jenkins over at Sports Illustrated, one which focuses on LA’s decision to go “all-in” on Griffin.
As usual, it’s worth reading the whole piece because Jenkins is so good, but here’s the juicy quote in context:
Before training camp Griffin rented a house in San Diego on Airbnb and invited the team to join him. Rookies doubled up in rooms. Griffin grabbed a twin bed, ceding the master to homesick first-year Serbian guard Miloš Teodosić. By day the Clippers practiced at the University of San Diego, and by night they hung out on a deck, a peekaboo view of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. “It felt like we were taking all our bulls—, putting it in a trash can and dumping it in the water,” recalls guard Austin Rivers. “The dynamic with Blake and Chris was weird. I don’t know why. It was just strange. No one knew who the leader was, and if you had something to say, it would turn into an argument. I think people were sometimes scared to say something to Blake, because you didn’t know how he’d react. [Now] he’s a whole different person, more approachable, and I think it’s because we’ve embraced him. We know who our leader is. We’re all-in with Blake Griffin.”
Of course, if you know anything about this team or who was giving the quote, there’s some qualifiers to be had here.
First, there was reportedly a rift between Paul and the team specifically because of Rivers’ involvement in the team. Head coach and father Doc Rivers, formerly the president of the team, was stripped of that power in August. This came after Doc Rivers had handed out a massive 3-year extension to his son at a number many deemed unearned.
That deal also reportedly created friction within the team, including with Paul. According to one report, Paul also felt the elder Rivers didn’t criticize his son fairly compared to other players, and was annoyed that Doc once vetoed a trade for Carmelo Anthony because it involved Austin.
Of course, it’s not as though Austin Rivers would openly criticize the only remaining superstar on a team which he could now freely be ejected from, so it does make sense that he would pin Paul as the main agitation for Griffin’s unhappiness.
This is to say nothing of what Paul did or didn’t do — to that end, we’re not sure — but the quote itself is so blatantly self-serving and hilarious within the context of the organization the past three seasons.
To reiterate: Austin Rivers digs Blake Griffin, his teammate, and doesn’t dig Chris Paul, a former teammate who was apparently annoyed by him.
Houston and LA face off on Dec. 22 in Texas.