Doc Rivers said the Clippers have come a long way in the selflessness department since his first meeting with Chris Paul, when the new coach told his perennial All-Star point guard that he “wasn’t anything.”
Rivers said Wednesday that Paul embellished the wording allegedly used in that exchange, but the point remained: The Clippers needed to get over themselves to win a championship.
They are getting closer, according to Rivers.
‘We have had some growth, there’s no doubt about that, as a team over the last year and a half or two years,” Rivers said before the Clippers played the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of their first-round series at Staples Center.
“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and it does one or two things to your team: It tears you apart or it kind of brings you together. I think everything we’ve been through, some of it has been self-inflicted, some of it has been inflicted by the opponents and it’s been good for us so far.”
The Clippers have withstood the fiasco involving ousted owner Donald Sterling and a crushing playoff collapse against the Oklahoma City Thunder, among other challenges. Rivers said his players have largely put aside their personal needs in favor of the collective good.
“There’s a lot of ways to win, but I think the one way that every team has come to at some point, they’ve turned into a team and they take themselves out of it,” Rivers said. “I’ve never seen a selfish team win or a team that is thinking about their individual stuff.”
The Lakers and Kings did not make the playoffs this season, but there could be some postseason revelry in their locker rooms.
Each of the locker rooms has been converted into an owner’s lounge for the Clippers’ series against the Spurs. The Clippers are using the Lakers’ locker room as a hospitality suite and the Spurs are using the Kings’ locker room for the same purpose.
Staples Center President Lee Zeidman said the Lakers and Kings granted permission for the use of their locker rooms by their fellow tenant. The hallway leading to the Lakers’ locker room has been lined with protective black carpeting and black drapes that cover pictures of legendary players including Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West.
Zeidman said the locker rooms of non-participating tenants previously have been used for similar purposes for the NBA and NHL playoffs, NCAA tournament regional games and the Grammy Awards, among other events.
Paul been selected the captain of Team World for a game against Team Africa in Johannesburg on Aug. 1 as part of the NBA’s efforts to extend its global reach by holding its first game in Africa.
Miami’s Luol Deng, a native of South Sudan, will be the captain of Team Africa, which will be composed of players from Africa and second-generation African players. Team World will be composed of players from the rest of the world, with the full rosters to be released at a later date. This will be Paul’s first trip to Africa.
Rookie guard C.J. Wilcox and forward Justin Hamilton were inactive for the first two games of the series for the Clippers. Rivers said Hamilton had sustained a concussion in practice.… The Clippers honored former general manager Elgin Baylor with a video tribute during the first quarter. Baylor watched the game from a courtside seat next to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.