For Clippers’ Chris Paul, Oklahoma City will always be special

By Vincent Bonsignore

OKLAHOMA CITY – Blake Griffin isn’t the only Clippers player making a homecoming to Oklahoma City against the Thunder in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Griffin, who was born here, grew into a local legend at Oklahoma Christian High School – where his father was a celebrated coach – and later at the University of Oklahoma.

But he’s not the only Clipper with local roots.

Back in 2005 Chris Paul was just beginning his NBA career when the New Orleans Hornets were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Needing a home while there arena was being rebuilt, the Hornets spent two seasons in Oklahoma City.

It’s where Paul emerged as an NBA star and it’s a city he remains fond of.

“I always say this about Oklahoma, I’ll always have a special place in my heart,” Paul said. “This is where I won rookie of the year, I played my first two years here. This is where I started becoming a professional.”

Those were trying times for the Hornets, as they split time between two cities. Especially for a young players still trying to find his way.

But the connection they made with Oklahoma City was special.

“It was unreal. I had never seen anything like it,” Paul said. “Obviously I was new to the NBA.

But Oklahoma City made the transition easy by welcoming the Hornets with open arms.

“It was fun, I loved it here.” Paul said. “It was exciting, the fans were unreal.”

And the connection was real, as Paul learned when he put on a basketball camp for kids and was astonished by the turnout.

“I had 450 kids,” he said. “It was a great time here. I had a lot of relationships, people I still keep in contact with.”

In the process, the rest of the NBA was turned on to Oklahoma City’s passion for professional basketball. That was an essential component to the city eventually landing the Seattle Supersonics in 2008.

“I definitely think it had something to do with it,” Paul said. “Because everyone around the league got a chance to see that this city could support an NBA franchise.”

Now Paul returns as the enemy. And while Oklahoma City remains near to his heart, that won’t stop him from taking out the Thunder.

“Once they throw the ball up, it’s basketball,” he said.



OAKLAND – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acted decisively by punishing Clippers owner Donald Sterling Tuesday with a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine for making racist comments.

Today, the 29 other owners begin the process of carrying out Silvers end-game objective of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers.

The owners advisory committee/finance committee, made up of 10 owners, will convene today on a conference call to discuss the next steps in dealing with Sterling, who was caught on tape making offensive remarks toward minorities

Silver immediately pounced on Sterling with the unprecedented punishment, then urged owners to use their power to force Sterling to sell the team – which would require the support of three-fourths of the league’s owners in a vote.

Silver indicated Tuesday he is confident there are enough votes to carry out his hopes, and considering the vast amounts of supportive feedback owners have expressed it seems likely Silver will get his wish

The 10-owner committee consists of: Minnesota’s Miami’s Micky Arison, the Lakers’ Jeanie Buss, Oklahoma City’s Clay Bennett, New York’s James Dolan, Boston’s Wyc Grousbeck, San Antonio’s Peter Holt, Phoenix’s Robert Sarver, Indiana’s Herb Simon, and Toronto’s Larry Tanenbaum.


At the end of a long, historic day the Clippers could breathe again. And focus on basketball

By Vincent Bonsignore

With the world watching, the NBA pounced on Donald Sterling Tuesday.

It did so swiftly, decisively and with unprecedented force when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stood at a podium in New York and hammered the Clippers owner with a lifetime ban that permanently disconnects him from any official association with the Clippers or NBA.

Then Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million dollars, the maximum allowed under his jurisdiction. Most importantly, he urged the NBA Board of Governors to unite together in vote to force Sterling to sell the team he’s owned for more than three decades.

“Adam Silver today was fantastic,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He made a decision that had to be made.”
Continue reading “At the end of a long, historic day the Clippers could breathe again. And focus on basketball” »

Clippers Blake Griffin about to join some exclusive company

By Vincent Bonsignore

There might not be three more different basketball players than Blake Griffin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley, but with a few more rebounds Griffin is about to create an interesting link among the trio.

Heading in Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center, Griffin needed 19 more rebounds to join Abdul-Jabbar and Barkley as the only three players to reach six-thousand points, three-thousand rebounds and one-thousand assists by the end of their fourth season.

“Wow, that’s impressive,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who played against Barkley and Abdul-Jabbar.

Most intriguing to Rivers is how distinctly different the trio play the game, with Abdul-Jabbar a 7-foot back-to-the-basket center, Barkley a 6-foot-5 undersized – length anyway – power forward and Griffin an explosive 6-9 power forward.

And yet, all three arrived at a similar place statistically at the same exact time.

“There aren’t three guys that can be more different than those three,” Rivers marveled “There’s not anything similar about any of them, which is amazing. And it’s another lesson that you can do things similar but in different ways.”

Through 63 games, Griffin is averaging a career-high 24.4 points to go along with 9.7 rebounds and 3.6 assist. He and Minnesota’s Kevin Love were the only players to average at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in the month of February.

“It just tells you how great Blake is, is what it does,” Rivers said. “He’s awful young to be reaching milestones.”


By Vincent Bonsignore

The average fan knows new Clippers forward Glen Davis by his nickname, “Big Baby.”

But Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Davis for four years with the Boston Celtics and was reunited with him this week when the Clippers signed him to beef up their front court, has other nicknames for the 6-foot-9 big man.

He’s called me a lot of things,” Davis said, laughing, while remembering his days under Rivers in Boston.

Like, for instance, Lazarus – a reference to Davis’ penchant for getting knocked to the floor, rolling around in pain only to miraculously rise back up to live another play.

It became a such running joke with the Celtics that Rivers readily admits there were times Davis tumbled to the court in practice and Rivers ordered the team to just keep on scrimmaging, knowing full well the injury wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed and that Davis would eventually pick himself back up.

Normally, that is exactly what happened.

Except for the time Davis took a blow to the head in a playoff game and suffered a real injury.

Much to the surprise of Rivers and his teammates.

At the time it happened it was pretty serious. But nearly four years later it’s actually a pretty funny story.

The setting was Orlando during the 2009-10 Eastern Conference finals and Davis had just taken a wicked elbow to the head by then Magic center Dwight Howard – the force of which sent Davis crashing to the ground.

I was out,” Davis remembered.

Rivers, though, thought it was just another of Davis’ typical over-acting jobs. And knowing the high stakes of the game, Rivers screamed at Davis to pick himself up.

If you watch the video, you can literally see Rivers angrily gesturing at Davis to get up and join his teammates on the other end of the court.

A dazed and confused Davis could hear his coach yelling at him as he struggled to gather himself.

My eyes are rolling around, I’m completely out of it, and all I hear is (Rivers) screaming ‘Get your %$%$%$%$% &%&%$%%$% up. Get your $#$%$%&%% &&%&%% up!!!!’” Davis laughingly remembered.

Somehow, someway, Davis pulled himself up and tried to run to the other end of the court. Only his legs, head and senses weren’t cooperating.

Everything was moving in slow motion,” Davis said.

Meanwhile, Rivers kept screaming at him. But try as Davis did to run, it wasn’t happening. And after taking few stumbling steps, he literally collapsed into the arms of a referee near the Celtics bench.

Only then did Rivers realize this time, Davis was really hurt.

And as I slumped over (Rivers) was like “oh #$%$$#$.” Davis recalled.

Davis wasn’t acting. In fact he suffered a concussion.

He felt pretty bad,” Davis said.

No hard feelings, of course. In fact, Davis cites his strong relationship with Rivers for choosing to sign with the Clippers after getting bought out by the Orlando Magic.

But man, I haven’t thought about that in years,” Davis said. “And now that I think about it, he owes me an apology. I was knocked out, man. And he thought I was faking”


By Vincent Bonsignore

With the Clippers opening the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, here are five quick things to keep an eye on:


The Clipper’s have battled through injuries all season, some big, some small, but a constant issue all year. They come into the postseason relatively healthy, although Chauncey Billups is still battling leg problems and Caron Butler’s knee has been a sore spot for some time. Billups, especially, is a concern early on and his minutes will be monitored as he works his way back into shape. He returned after an eight-game absence Tuesday against the Portland Trailblazers, and it will still take time to round into form. The Clippers have shown they can win without their veteran leader – remember, the beat the Grizzlies in seven games last year without Billups playing a game – but they are a much better team with him healthy and playing well, especially this time of year.



Yes, Memphis benefited from the mid-season trade that sent leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto and brought Tayshaun Prince to the Grizzlies. Defensively, they are a better team and the ball moves better offensively. Putting it in the basket has been a challenge, though, and as they showed in a loss to the Clippers at home last Saturday, their lack of firepower is a major issue. Gay, for all the concern about how much he was getting paid, was a consistent scorer and the Grizzlies might learn the hard way his production isn’t easily made up for in the playoffs.


The Clippers big man had one of his most efficient games of the year against the Grizzlies last Saturday with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. If the Clippers can get that kind of production from him in the first round, they should soar into the semifinals. The problem is Jordan hasn’t reached the point where he can string together performances like that on a consistent basis, too often playing well one night but then vanishing the next. The Clippers have won a franchise-best 56 games dealing with those inconsistencies, but can they win four out of the next seven against the Grizzlies is he falls into that trend?


We all know Lob City leads the league in highlight plays. Between the dunks of Blake Griffin and Jordan and the cross-over moves of Jamal Crawford and the all-oop passing of Chris Paul, they are a television sports producer’s dream. And while that’s all well and good in the regular season, winning playoff games comes down to focus, execution and an ability to make the most out of every offensive and defensive sequence. Do the Clippers have the maturity and fortitude to grind out each possession, execute their sets precisely and take care of the ball? Conversely, do they have it in them play after play after play to communicate, rotate and help each other defensively? If so, they should win this series easily.


We all remember Griffin limping around last year as the Clippers beat Memphis in seven games before falling to the San Antonio Spurs in a four-game sweep. It didn’t take a doctor to understand Griffin was playing at less than 80 percent capacity, and that is pushing it. This year he goes into the playoffs as healthy as can be, and presumably ready to another step on his way to stardom. Standing in his way are the physical, aggressive Grizzlies, who like to muck games up and take opponents out of their game. Griffin has made strides keeping his emotions in check this year; especially when it comes to his issues with the physical liberties opponents take on him and what he perceives as indifference from the referees. That maturity will be tested big time against the Grizzlies, who will try to get into his head. If he can rise above it he and the Clippers should be fine. If not, the edge goes to Memphis.