LOS ANGELES — From the first minute you start talking to them, sitting next to each other in a stylish Marina Del Rey office, you realize isn’t some “made for YouTube” performance dreamed up by a marketing department. This is real.
Boban Marjanovic and Tobias Harris are best friends — and they interact like best friends. They sound like you out with your mates, a conversation littered with inside jokes and little digs.
And if someone steps up and tries to make a serious point, usually Harris, the other one comes in over the top with a joke. Usually Boban.
For example, try asking them what drew an African-American from New York and a pale white guy from Serbia together as close friends.
“I think it was just personalities…” Harris said.
“You know like bad and good cop, he was bad,” Boban interjected.
“That was the connection, personalities,” Harris said, shaking his head and trying to steer the conversation back on point. “Then we were always in the weight room lifting, so we were around each other a whole lot…”
“He wants to say we are super strong,” Boban joked.
It’s like that all the time. People may get drawn in by the “Odd Couple” look of Harris and Marjanovic as best friends, but it becomes instantly clear the chemistry is genuine. It’s why people love their YouTube “buddy cop” shorts the “Bobi and Tobi Show,” because its authentic. They are having a good time, they want you to have a good time. It’s that simple. That pure.
That genuine connection has even led to the pair landing sponsorship deals together, such as one to promote the Subway Golden Token Instant Win Game. The popular sandwich chain is offering Subway rewards members the chance to win trips to major sporting events, including the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, and it runs through Nov. 15.
“Subway came about because they are doing to Golden Token sweepstakes,” Harris said. “When we first started the Bobi and Tobi Show, it was to give back and just get people excited.”
“You should have a smile on your face every time [you watch their show],” Boban interjected. “I can’t respect that if people can’t smile around you. Make them more proud, make them more happy. We want people to smile more.”
“And Subway felt the same way,” Harris said, trying to wrest back control of the conversation. “The type of sweepstakes they’re doing now, giving people and fans, just random customers the opportunity to go to the NBA All-Star Game, the NHL All-Star Game, the Daytona 500, or the Rose Bowl, so we think we’re the perfect people for it, and we’re excited to be part of this with Subway.”
The duo met when they were together on the Detroit Pistons, and it was there their friendship first took root. In the weight room, sure, but also just going to restaurants together, hanging out on the road and spending time.
“You can call me a foodie,” Harris said.
“He knows food, I eat food,” Boban added.
Then last Jan. 29 both were traded to the Clippers as part of the Blake Griffin deal, as was fellow Piston Avery Bradley.
“When we did come over here it was three of us, but Avery was hurt, we were relatively new to a new situation, and we had a prior friendship, but I think it did help because when you’re in a new city you’re going to go with the person you’re most comfortable with,” Harris said.
“I followed Tobias everywhere,” Marjanovic said, putting it more bluntly.
Being in the larger market of Los Angeles came a brighter spotlight with the celebrity culture all around them, and it opened doors. Marjanovic got a small role as an assassin in Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick 3,” which comes out next year.
“He’s killin’ it, literally getting his ass beat, but that’s okay,” Harris joked while Marjanovic gave him the side eye.
“Why you always get mad when I tell people John Wick beat your ass — it happened,” Harris said with a laugh.
Coming to L.A. also led to their Bobi and Tobi YouTube show, which has been a hit.
“I really look forward to it being continued,” Marjanovic said.
“It’s gonna be a little bit harder,” to film them during the season,” Harris added. “Like last year we did it after the season was over, so we had time, but we’ll see what happens. We get a couple days off and want to do it, we’ll do it.”
Right now, the pair is focused on the season itself — the 4-3 Clippers are in the thick of the West playoff hunt early on, with a few quality wins (Oklahoma City, and Houston twice). This is a team that believes the playoffs are within its grasp.
“I think we can be a playoff team. The West is really hard, because we’ve both been in East and West,” Marjanovic said, shooting a look over to Harris. Then he went into coach speak. “Our goal is to get more and more and more wins, and get better every day, and first of all to enjoy it on the court. We’ve put high levels on the season, the playoffs is one of them.”
“The goal is to be in the playoffs,” Harris added. “Any time you go into the season, especially with the group we have, we have a really good group of guys chemistry wise… there are things we can get better at, just progress on, I like this group and think we’re a playoff team.”
Hanging over that is the fact both Harris and Marjanovic will be free agents next summer.
“Everyone says they don’t think about it, but it’s human nature,” Harris said. “One of the things I’ve predicated myself on and just going into every year focused on is just being better every single day and not worrying about what’s coming in the summer but just being locked in on helping the team win, and you kind of lose track of free agency and things like that.”
Both say they would, ideally, like to stay with the Clippers. Harris’ name has come up in Jimmy Butler trade talks, but the Clippers have not wanted to part with him in a deal. In a perfect world, the Clippers want to keep Harris, but they are going big game hunting this summer — I’ve heard from sources, and there’s been plenty of other reporting, that they will be in the mix for Kawhi Leonard — and whether they have the money to bring back Harris remains to be seen.
But both will be quick to tell you this is not the Clippers of a decade ago — this is a franchise players now want to be a part of. Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers, Jerry West, Lawrence Frank have changed the franchise culture to one seen as player friendly.
“I truly would say so,” Harris said of the change. “It’s a great organization top to bottom, great coach, an owner that is really invested in the team. I’ve been in different situations, different organizations, and this organization is top of the line. So it’s definitely a situation that players, in my opinion, would want to be at.”
“We just feel great right here,” Marjanovic added. “Just everything, just organizational, our coach, people, teammates, people who work there, everybody you meet, when you walk in the building you feel a great energy, to feel good.”
Free agency could see the Bobi and Tobi show going their separate ways. Basketball is a cold business like that.
Just don’t think it’s splitting up their friendship. That is authentic.
“This is somebody who is very caring for people, always wants to go out of his way to serve others in essence, and I think myself, that’s who I aspire to continue to be every single day,” Harris said of his friend. “Somebody who’s just trying to be a better person and be able to lead by example and show people a different way.”
That may be the highest praise there is.