Before the Los Angeles Clippers lost four straight games in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs, they shocked the basketball world by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 7 of their first round series at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.
The Clippers and the state of Los Angeles partied, while the Grizzlies and Menphis fans hung their heads, grit their teeth and vowed for revenge.
In an interview with ESPN 92.9 in Memphis today, the Grizzlies’ star and team captain Rudy Gay told Eric Hasseltine he doesn’t like Chris Paul anymore because of last season’s playoffs and that he wants to settle the score.
This is his answer to Hasseltine’s question on whether or not Memphis has unfinished business:
“Definitely and how fitting that our first game is against the Clippers. (Host: Do you like them? Be honest.) Honestly no I don’t. (Host: I know you’re friends with Chris (Paul).) I mean I love him but I don’t like him anymore. (Host: I mean that’s your brother but as a team and man look they made a new rule because of them, the flopping rule came out.) Well yeah. (Host: What do you think about that?) One of the best parts of the playoffs last year was seeing Chris with the bonnet on. That was hilarious.”
This makes an awesome storyline for the Clippers’ first game of the season. We now have drama and a reason to make sure LA has its game face on from the get-go.
I understand why Gay would be upset since the Grizzlies were a lot of people’s sleeper pick to make it to the Western Conference Finals after taking the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in the semifinals the year before. LA ruined that dream.
The best part is Gay is bringing back the mindset of the 1990’s, when players from one team didn’t talk to players from other teams and hang out with them after a game. Michael Jordan didn’t do lunch with Patrick Ewing. Magic Johnson didn’t invite Larry Bird over to watch a movie with his family — at least not when they were bitter rivals on the court.
LA defeating the Grizzlies, made Gay mad — good. He should want to avenge the Clippers and come out ready to score 30 points, grab 10 boards and dish out some assists.
On the other side, the Clippers should want to do what they did before, defeat the Griz every chance they get.
Paul and company should be aggravated, annoyed, irritated with Gay’s statements. They should think that they beat them fair and square, and outplayed them in their own gym. I know Blake Griffin, Paul and the Clippers don’t think it was a fluke, but a lot of the basketball world does. Plus, who doesn’t get mad after someone says seeing your big head in a bonnet (Grizzlies fans had a giant Paul head cutout dressed like a baby with a bonnet and pacifier) was hilarious?
Paul should be furious. How does a guy say “I love him but I don’t like him” ? Gay’s statements don’t sound like love at all. Again, good.
This year, the Clippers have even a better shot because of their additions of Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford; maybe it wasn’t the right time for Gay to run his mouth.
With the help of the new guys and annoyed versions of Paul and Griffin, the Clippers better be ready to play hard enough to get another victory against the Griz on the opening day of the season because Memphis is ready for revenge.
This seems like a rivalry between two up and coming teams the basketball world should embrace. I know I have.