One of the big stories that got a lot of airtime over the offseason was the state of dysfunction the Los Angeles Clippers found themselves in last year. Part of the problem, apparently, was the unequal treatment that certain players received as compared to others.
Specifically, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are said to have received the sort of allowances and passes that were not afforded to the Clippers’ role players.
This week, both former head coach Doc Rivers and George himself addressed those rumors as honestly and bluntly as possible.
“A lot of it is true,” Rivers admitted.
“There was special treatment, but what people don’t understand is I was the guy who didn’t like it and was fighting it.”
For Rivers, the larger problem the Clippers had last year was a lack of overall cohesiveness.
“The goal on every team is to find a group of guys who have figured out how to win — or at least some of them,” Rivers continued.
“If they are the right ones, they don’t give a s— what anyone else does. They don’t get caught up in all the crap.
“The Lakers are a great example. Clearly LeBron and AD got different treatment, but the guys around them said, ‘Who cares? As long as we win.”
That said, Rivers still wishes things would have gone differently.
“Hearing now how much that team didn’t get along, that bothers me,” he added.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 23, 2020
“I pride myself on getting guys together. I knew we weren’t the most cohesive team, but — maybe it’s my ego — I thought I could get everyone to still buy in.”
Following the Clippers’ 116-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley asked George about the special treatment situation.
“As you know Charles, the dudes that put in the work, that built themselves up to be where they’re at, it’s a reason they get to that level,” George replied.
The mystery of what Tyreek Hill was drinking on the sidelines has been solved. https://t.co/GmXi3qpRs6
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 21, 2020
“They know what they need and they know what makes them play at a high level. Whoever that offends…we don’t have that issue right now in this locker room.”
It’s hard to address a problem without acknowledging that it exists to begin with, so it’s good that both Rivers and George can recognize that a problem existed.
That said, based on George’s most recent comments, it sounds like he believes the special treatment was justified. If that’s the case, then it’s unlikely that he will accept anything less going forward.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.