Watch 48 minutes of any Los Angeles Clippers versus Memphis Grizzlies game and you’ll get the gist that the two absolutely hate each other. Regular season games have a playoff feel and playoff games feel like the NBA Finals. Whether it’s the flopping, the fouls (flagrant, technical and double [!!!]) or the physical play, it’s a knockout drag fest every night especially when things like this happen:
And despite all of that, Clippers star Blake Griffin insists the two teams don’t hate each other in a q&a with Sports Illustrated.
Not hatred. We have a mutual respect for each other with the battles we’ve had going back to last year in the regular season. Like you said, the seven-game series was a battle. It’s become one of these well-known physical games where everyone’s taking the hits. It’s actually a lot of fun. There isn’t hate, though. On the court, there’s animosity. But off the court, everyone’s cool.
via Blake Griffin Q&A – Sports Illustrated: Extra Mustard
Regardless of what fans around the league like to think, this is extremely common throughout the league. Some rivalries are outright dislikes such as the New York Knicks versus the Boston Celtics or the Celtics versus the Miami Heat or the Celtics versus the Los Angeles Lakers (moral of the story: the Celtics hate everyone), some teams just “hate” each other on the court.
There have been certain instances of Grizzlies players such as Rudy Gay (in the off-season) and Zach Randolph displaying their blatant dislike for the Clippers, but when you face an opposing Western Conference contender at least four times in the regular season and in back-to-back seven game series in the playoffs a mutual dislike is bound to happen.
Though Blake says the hate isn’t real, there’s not debating whether this is a rivalry, maybe the best one in the entire league. They leave it all on the line when going against each other.