The Clippers’ season has turned into a dance marathon in recent weeks.
At veteran forward Paul Pierce’s urging, the team has started a tradition in which the last player to enter the locker room after a victory must dance in front of his teammates. It’s led to lots of getting down during the Clippers’ current six-game winning streak.
It also resulted in a reprimand from the NBA, Coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday, after players cut short postgame television interviews to sprint back to the locker room.
Shooting guard J.J. Redick stuck around for all of eight seconds during an interview after the Clippers’ victory over the Detroit Pistons last month before darting off the court. Redick could be seen looking around to see where his teammates were before trainer Jasen Powell tapped him on the shoulder and he disappeared.
“It’s funny, we do something fun and we still get in trouble,” said Rivers, who has instructed his players to complete the interviews. “It’s just who we are.”
Guards Chris Paul and Austin Rivers have been among the players who danced the most. The consensus is that sixth man Jamal Crawford is the best dancer, though the designation comes with an asterisk.
“I’m questioning whether or not he practiced that with his wife in front of a mirror,” Redick said. “It was too orchestrated, it was not something he did on a whim. It was well thought out.”
There’s no debating who was the worst performer. Poor Cole Aldrich.
“Cole was pretty bad,” center DeAndre Jordan said after the formerly seldom-used center had to dance Saturday following the Clippers’ blowout victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Said Redick: “Maybe he should go back to getting DNPs, seriously. I don’t ever want to see that again.”
Jordan said players often jostle for position to enter the locker room and try to ensure that certain players are last given how they played.
“It gets real physical in the back, like a lot of tugging and pulling on jerseys,” Jordan said. “And the door is small. Nobody has run into the door yet.”
The dancing setup is modeled after the “Soul Train Line” from the popular musical variety television show. Players provide the beat with rhythmic clapping, and howling laughter invariably ensues. Doc Rivers knows when it’s safe to enter the locker room.
“When the clapping stops, that means I can come in,” Rivers said. “I don’t want to witness bad dancing.”
Rivers, when asked where Blake Griffin was in his recovery from the partially torn left quadriceps tendon that has sidelined him since Dec. 26, pointed to the All-Star forward running on an anti-gravity treadmill in an adjacent room and said, “He’s right there.” The only news involving Griffin was that he was named 2015 sportsman of the year by the L.A. Sports Council.
Forward Wesley Johnson did not practice for a second consecutive day because of a sore right foot but is considered probable to play Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
CLIPPERS AT PORTLAND
Where: Moda Center.
On the air: TV: Prime; Radio: 980, 1330.
Records: Trail Blazers 15-22; Clippers 22-13.
Record vs. Trail Blazers: 1-1.
Update: Portland is only two games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference largely thanks to superb guard play from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who have combined to average 45.3 points and 11.2 assists per game. Former Los Angeles Price High standout Allen Crabbe is also experiencing a breakthrough, averaging career highs in points (11.1) and minutes (25.9) after playing sparingly in his first two NBA seasons.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch