Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The Real Story Behind The Chris Paul-DeAndre Jordan Feud.
All of a sudden, in the wake of the LA Clippers' choking away the Houston Rocket series, a feud between Clippers' point guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Jordan is taking center stage. Is there really a feud? If so what's behind it?
According to three sources close to the Clippers, here's what's going on. It's basically a clash of attitudes. One source referred to Paul as a "mini Jordan," meaning he thinks of himself as the Clippers' answer to Michael Jordan. Remember, Michael was the hard-nosed, dictatorial leader of the Chicago Bulls in their '90s heyday. Paul has tried to assume that lofty, tough-guy,.Jordanesque position as leader of the Clippers, but he has run into some opposition. One player who doesn't relish that attitude is DeAndre Jordan, a hang-loose, laid-back kind of guy.
The essence of the feud is that Jordan doesn't like Paul's pushy, bossy attitude. To Jordan, it feels like he's being shoved around and he doesn't like it. When Paul came to the Clippers a few years ago, Jordan was still raw and just a promising player, while Paul was a hot-shot All-Star. Jordan was just a second-tier player, so he had to take a subservient position to big-time Paul. But since then Jordan has blossomed into one of the top three defensive players in the league. He's a potent force who's actually more valuable than Paul. Finding another first-rate point guard would be a lot easier than finding an athletic, shot-blocking, top-notch rebounding rim-protector like Jordan.
Quite simply, Jordan has become a huge force on the Clippers--and he knows it. He feels he's above being pushed around by Paul. But Paul only knows how to be one thing--a pushy leader. That's his way. It doesn't please his teammates. Rumor has it that when he left the New Orleans Hornets in 2011, some of those players were happy to see him go.
He and the Clippers' other star, Blake Griffin, clashed when Paul first came to the team. Griffin, then, was the No.1 guy but Paul asserted himself right away as top dog. Griffin balked. There was bad blood between them for well over a year, before they finally declared a truce. When Doc Rivers came to the Clippers, replacing Vinnie Del Negro as head coach, his first order of business was to smooth relations between his stars.
Actually, this Paul-Jordan feud is nothing new. These two have been at odds since last year. The conflict has just been getting steamier in the last few months. Rivers has had to do what LA Lakers' head coach Phil Jackson did with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal--play referee. Jackson's biggest job on those championship teams wasn't dealing with Xs and Os but playing mediator between those two, making sure they didn't kill each other.
There have been many flareups between Paul and Jordan, report the sources, including some heated locker-room arguments and some conflicts that have been visible at court side during games. So far, though, the beefs have been neatly covered up. That's been possible because the LA media isn't as blood-thirsty and tabloid-oriented as media in other big cities.
One of the issues is that Paul has been riding Jordan about his horrible free-throw shooting. Sources say Paul thinks Jordan hasn't been working hard enough to improve this weakness. Jordan, however, resents Paul butting in.
Another problem, report the sources, is that Jordan is miffed at Paul doing his Michael Jordan imitation when he hasn't had the success that Jordan had. Michael helped the Bulls win many championships so his teammates felt obliged to succumb to his harsh leadership tactics. Paul, however, hasn't even been able to lead the Clippers to a conference championship game. So DeAndre resents him acting the tough-leader role when he hasn't lead them to anything close to a championship.
The feud is surfacing now because DeAndre is about to become a free agent. He can either sign a max deal with the Clippers, for $100 million, or go to another team for less money. Dallas has been mentioned as a possible new team for Jordan, a Texas native who was born in Houston and went to Texas A&M.
Clipper fans fear that if Jordan is not on good terms with Paul that may push him to leave Los Angeles. That's not necessarily true. There have been horrible fights between NBA players, sometimes to the point of fisticuffs, and that never forced the warring parties to jump ship. Do you think things were smooth on those Michael Jordan championships teams?. Actually they were plenty rocky. That was also true on Pat Riley's Knick teams and, way back in the old days, there was plenty of player strife on Bill Russell's Celtic teams. Recently, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a mess for months, but the players, led by LeBron, resolved the conflicts. Problems can be successfully handled internally. They don't have to break up teams.
This is where Rivers comes in. It's up to him to smooth over any problems and convince Jordan to stay with the Clippers. My guess is that he will stay. Paul and Griffin learned to co-exist. So can Paul and Jordan. If Jordan leaves, blame Rivers for being a lousy mediator.
By the way, expect a bunch of media stories in the next few weeks quoting Clipper players and various other sources denying there's any rift between Jordan and Paul.
Ignore those stories. That's just publicity b.s.
Posted by Dennis Hunt at 4:23 PM