DeAndre Jordan: ‘Being with the Clippers was the best decision for me’
DeAndre Jordan explained Tuesday why he backed out of his oral commitment with the Dallas Mavericks this month to re-sign with the Clippers.
“I thought I wanted change and I needed change in my career,” Jordan said at a news conference at Staples Center. “I wanted a bigger role and more responsibility. And I was ready to embrace and accept that challenge.
“But then, like I said, when I got by myself and I was able to think about everything that just happened, I realized that being with the Clippers was the best decision for me.”
Jordan, who had spent his entire seven-season career with the Clippers, told the Mavericks during the NBA’s moratorium period he would join the team. He then had second thoughts. Clippers’ superstar power forward Blake Griffin traveled to Houston on July 7 to talk things over with his good friend before he had to officially sign with a team the following day.
On July 8, a Clippers’ contingent that included Coach Doc Rivers, team owner Steve Ballmer and players Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce also went to Jordan’s home. Rumors spread on Twitter that the team was holding Jordan hostage until he was able to officially sign with the Clippers.
“First of all, it wasn’t a hostage situation,” Jordan said. “I feel like I’m a pretty big guy, and I don’t think they can lock me.”
Rivers then interjected: “No, we could have locked him up. If we wanted to, that would have happened.”
Jordan said that during that meeting, the team discussed various things that helped influence his decision to return.
“I realized what was important and this team and this organization was,” Jordan said. “And I’m happy I’m here and that’s why I’m here.
Rivers interjected once again.
“Let me also say that [Jordan’s mother] Kimberly fed us twice. That’s the real reason we stayed” until he signed.
One of Jordan’s biggest gripes about returning to the Clippers was his diminished role on offense, playing behind Griffin and Paul. On Tuesday, Jordan said Rivers didn’t exactly promise him he’d have a bigger role during that team meeting in Houston.
“The only thing that Doc promised me was an extra $8 million,” Jordan said with a laugh. “That’s was about it.”
Jordan went on to clarify rumors regarding his contentious relationship with Paul, saying their rapport was not as strained as it appeared.
“I know it looked that way on the floor, because we’re both emotional and vocal players, but when it comes down to it, we’re all criticizing each other because we want what’s best for the team,” Jordan said. “And I just feel like when you do butt heads on the floor, 30 seconds later it’s over because we’re all trying to win a basketball game. And I think that we let facial expressions and outside stories dictate what we believe. But Chris is like a big brother to me and other guys on this team.”
Jordan was criticized throughout the free agency process for not telling Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban he had changed his mind and decided to go to the Clippers. The center, however, defended his actions by saying players don’t usually make those calls.
“Originally when I committed to Dallas, I mean I loved Doc, but I didn’t call him,” Jordan said. “We talked a little bit later. But I mean, when we make decisions in life and then we go back and change our minds on them, I feel like the only thing you can do is man up and apologize for it and voice your opinion and that’s what I did.”
Jordan issued Cuban a public apology over Twitter.
Cuban’s response via Cyber Dust on July 11: “When is an apology not an apology? When you didn’t write it yourself. Next”
Jordan added Tuesday he’s excited to return to a team that was one win away from making the Western Conference Finals last season for the first time in its 45-year existence.
“I just think what we’ve done the past two seasons, we’re going in the right direction,” Jordan said. “We’ve gone through so much the past two years of just, in the postseason and throughout the season, and we’ve overcome a lot of it. And I think we’re close to getting over that hump.”
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