Chris Paul: "We’re All Like Family"
ATLANTA – From the players and coaches, to the training staff, equipment managers and video coordinators, the majority of people in an NBA traveling party spend more time with one another during the season than they do their actual relatives.
In a way, they all comprise a family of their own.
That’s part of what made the Blake Griffin news so shocking for everyone, and Griffin took to Twitter to offer an apology in the following post following the Clippers’ win in Indiana:
“A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about. I want to apologize to the Clippers organization, my teammates and the fans for creating a distraction. I am working with the team on a resolution and getting back in the game as soon as possible.”
It’s been an exhausting 48 hours for the Clippers, who dealt on one side physically with the knowledge of the on-court loss of an All-Star and mentally with the complicated emotions which inevitably come while comprehending the situation between two close friends in Toronto.
Immediately after the game, the Clippers shared their thoughts.
“I definitely feel for both parties,” said DeAndre Jordan. “I’m friends with and love both parties. It’s out of my control, but hopefully we can figure out something.”
With all that surrounding the team, the Clippers needed a leader to pull them forward in Indiana. And there was no one more fit for that than Chris Paul, who’s taken his game to another level all month.
“We’re all like family,” said Paul, who responded with a team-high 26 points. “That’s how we’re going to deal with this, as a family. At the end of the day, we control what we can control. The guys here still have a job to do. Indiana wasn’t going to feel sorry for us.”
And the Clippers aren’t feeling sorry for themselves. Instead, as they did in the majority of the 15 games Griffin missed with a partially torn quad tendon, they came up with answers.
It’s been Paul, whose play in January rivals any point guard in the league, and J.J. Redick, whose career year from long distance continues. It’s been floor spacing from Paul Pierce and a 3-point boost from Wesley Johnson, as well as the emergence of Pablo Prigioni and Cole Aldrich.
On Tuesday, head coach Doc Rivers added another wrinkle to the fold, putting Paul, Prigioni, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers all on the court together with Jordan.
For the most part, a month’s worth of games without Griffin allowed Rivers and the coaching staff to see what worked and what didn’t. But this was something new – a fun experiment for Paul, who normally doesn’t get to share the court with Prigioni.
“I was excited about it,” Paul said. “I said, ‘Pablo, take the ball, let me get on the wing and get out the way a little bit.’”
And it worked. That five-man lineup was the most successful of any for the Clippers all night.
“Maybe it’s something we try again,” Paul said. “One thing about our team, we’re resilient. We’ve been through a lot of stuff around here. (There’s) not many people that like us – anybody – and we always say, ‘Who cares?’ We’ve got to be there for each other. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Doc Rivers said he never talks to his team about injuries or playing shorthanded. While he had to address the Clippers following the situation in Toronto, no one on the team plans on making excuses for how they play moving forward.
Paul said he’s spoken with Griffin once since the incident, but chose not to share what was said. Jordan, who’s as close with the two parties involved as anyone on the team, said it’s an unfortunate situation for everybody.
He hopes those involved can figure it out.
“It’s something the team’s handling, and we’re not going to use this as an excuse or let this be a distraction,” Jordan said.
So far, they’re 1-for-1 in that department, hoping to take that momentum into Wednesday against the Hawks.
“Any time you face adversity, whether it’s wins and losses or guys being hurt, it can galvanize you,” Redick said. “It can bring you together.”