'UGLY SWEATERS' SHOW CLIPPERS CAMARADERIE
LOS ANGELES - Chris Paul and Willie Green walked into the hallway outside of the Clippers locker room at Staples Center in the early evening Tuesday, well before their NBA best 14th consecutive victory, wearing perhaps the worst looking outfits they have chosen for a game in their careers.
Paul donned a white full turtleneck adorned with pictures of a gingerbread house, drum and holly, and a red sweater vest with white bells and an embroidered gingerbread man and other Christmas images. Green, who posed with Paul for a couple of pictures in the hallway, was wearing a navy blue cardigan with red and green stripes, and holly, angels and more sewn into it.
The ugly Christmas sweaters were Paul’s idea, according to Green, who said Paul’s mother found a store to buy them. And Paul said his wife, Jada, suggested it. And after liking the idea he called Griffin.
“My wife actually gave me the idea,” Paul said. “She’s the one who gave it to me and then I called Blake and I guess she hears me talk about the guys and she can see how close we are.”
For Griffin, who had a dark green, long sleeve shirt covered in white snowmen and a red and green vest, it showed how the team gets along with one another.
“There are no egos about it,” Griffin said. “Some guys might be like, ‘No, it’s a national TV game. I’m not wearing a sweater like this, but [Paul] called me and said, ‘Do you want to wear ugly sweaters?’ And I was like, ‘Sure.’ He announced it in the locker room and everybody was like ‘alright.’”
Prior to practice on Dec. 24, Paul entered the training facility carrying a large bag, like an ugly sweater Santa, full of choices for his teammates.
“I didn’t buy this one, it actually just appeared in our locker room,” guard Jamal Crawford said as held up a black cardigan with the word ‘Joy’ embroidered on the left pocket and other things he called Christmas swag. “There was a host of [sweaters], but I just picked this one out.”
A number of players arrived at Staples Center wearing them. DeAndre Jordan had a red and white sweater that looked like something he pulled from Clark Griswald’s closet in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Ronny Turiaf had a cardigan with hearts and Christmas trees and teddy bears wrapping around it horizontally. And Matt Barnes had giant white snowflakes and silver bows affixed to a forest green sweater that he had draped over his shoulders.
“I have the ugliest sweater,” Barnes said. “My mother-in-law and my kids decorated my sweater.”
It’s not the first time the Clippers have worn themed outfits prior to a game. On opening night, which fell on Halloween, the team arrived dressed as the “Men in Black.” Crawford said those nights exemplify the team’s camaraderie.
“I think it shows that we’re a tight-knit group,” Crawford said. “Like any team there’s going to be arguments or whatever, nothings always rosy. There are always bumps in the road, but we have a tight-knit group so we can talk through anything or work through anything. Little things like [the sweaters] help that.”