DA's Morning Tip
Morning Tip Q&A: DeAndre Jordan
The Clippers' defensive demon of a center talks about how his game has grown, the Olympics and having Kevin Garnett as a consultant
The Clippers talk. A lot. It’s part of what makes them really good, because when they’re good, they’re communicating on defense and shutting opponents down. But it’s part of their problem, because they complain to the refs on seemingly every call — and that leads to too many technical fouls.
Coach Doc Rivers says he’s told his guys to shut down the yakking, but old habits die hard. Besides, it’ll be difficult for DeAndre Jordan; he’s built his career on his ability to call things out for teammates before they happen. It’s part of the reason he made first team All-NBA last season and has twice been first team All-NBA on defense. And with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin currently out of the Clippers’ lineup with injuries, the 28-year-old Jordan is taking on even more responsibilities for his team than averaging a double-double (12.7 points, 13.9 rebounds) and shooting a league-best 69 percent from the floor.
He scored a career-high 29 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week, and has seven games this season with 20 or more rebounds. (And his free throw shooting, long a point of contention, has improved this season. He’s not exactly Mark Price yet, but at 52 percent from the line, he’s doing better than he has in the last five seasons.) His barking will also be amplified further as he continues working out at practices with the Clips’ newest “consultant,” a fellow named Kevin Garnett. KG was with the team during training camp and he’s working with Jordan now on, well, everything.
And Jordan — first in Defensive Win Shares last year — is still working toward that elusive Defensive Player of the Year award he’s yet to win. Somebody’s bound to hear about that.
Me: Do you feel responsible, personally, for your team’s defense?
DeAndre Jordan: Sometimes. Sometimes. Both good and bad. I take a lot of onus on that. It’s more of a pride thing. I get upset when people score on us, especially when it’s an easy basket. Everybody’s super talented in this league, but you want to make it tough for guys. They don’t need any help scoring the basketball. Teams don’t need help scoring the basketball. When we come out and we’re locked in and we’re physical and we’re all communicating and we’re all on a string, our defense is pretty good.
Me: So give me some safe for TV KG talk that he gives you in your meetings.
DJ: I don’t have a curse button. But in all seriousness, KG is amazing. He’s one of the players that I’ve always looked up to, and tried to take a lot from his game, and add it to mine, especially him being able to communicate on the floor. He’s such a great communicator. He can talk to one person, and then talk to another person. There’s so many different personalities in this league, and he knows how to get to each person, and motivate them in a way that they never knew that anybody could. He can take your game and your mental aspect to a different level. And working with him these past few weeks has been great.
Me: What in his brain did you want to pick?
DJ: How you do it every night. How you communicate every night. How you’re positive every night, even when you’re up 20, you’re down 20. Next play. Next play. And I wanted to learn that from him. He taught me that. I’m still learning some things from him every day. I was with him earlier morning. With a guy like that, you just want to pick his brain as much as possible, for both ends of the floor. Being a great basketball player and being a great leader, a guy like that is somebody you want to learn that from.
Me: Texts, phone calls?
DJ: Yeah, we exchange texts about different things. Game nights. And even for practices. He’s a great basketball mind and he knows all of the guys, and tendencies. We talk about guys’ tendencies, what they like to do and what they don’t want to do, and what I want to do better as a player, and how he can teach me how to do these different things. He wants to give that knowledge and you definitely want to receive it.
Me: What do you want to do better?
“Yeah, he’s an intense guy, man. I love that about him. … When you’ve got somebody that like, it ups your intensity. It’s cool, man. I’m glad he’s here.”
LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, on team owner Steve Ballmer
DJ: I want to become a better all-around player. This is my ninth season. I found something that I’m good at. I want to be great at it. But I also want to expand my game and become a better all-around player, just like everybody else in this league does. But I know what I’m good at. I know what I can bring to a team and I want to do that.
Me: I wanted you to see the quote that Larry Bird had about you. I asked him what players he likes watching today, and he said Russell Westbrook and you. He said he respected how you improved as a player (hands phone to Jordan to read quote).
DJ: Damn. (Laughs) Man, that’s crazy. Coming from a Hall of Famer like that, another great basketball mind, that’s, that’s cool to hear. That’s cool to read. When you’re respected by your peers, that’s amazing. But when you’re respected by and liked by other Hall of Fame players who put a stamp on this game, that’s something. It only pushes you to work harder.
Me: What did you take from the experience of being on the Olympic team in Rio?
DJ: Man, just playing with 11 of the best basketball players that we have was amazing. Playing with a great group of coaches. Coach K, man, he was great. He’s super intense. We still talk to this day. We exchange texts a lot. But that experience was great. And I didn’t really have to change too much of what I did; I just had to go out there and be myself. It was such a great experience going out there and just being an Olympian, and playing for your country, and then winning the gold medal on top of that was great. I’ll be bonded with those guys for life … it’s a super confidence-builder, especially when you go out and win it. It brings you closer to guys. It really is what’s on front of the jersey. And for us, that was huge. We have so many guys that could come out there and shoot the basketball every time if they wanted to, and they could have been a lot of one-on-one basketball. But they came together, 12 individual guys, and we were one whole. It was really us against everybody else. And when you have that mindset and you’re fighting every game and every practice for something that you want to achieve, it was amazing.
Me: Is there anything that you’re not sure Ballmer owns that you’d like to ask him? Like, does he have a Batmobile?
DJ: If he has a Batmobile, I’m gonna take it. ‘Cause Batman’s my favorite, ever. So if he has that, we have to have a nice little conversation. I don’t know. That’s tough. I’d love to see Ballmer own his own arena. That’d be cool. I’d like that a lot.
Me: To be continued. But do you feel his intensity, for good and bad? You know he’ll spend whatever it takes, but he wants results, too.
DJ: Yeah, he’s an intense guy, man. I love that about him. And when you have an owner who really loves the game and cares about the players and the staff and the organization and how we do, it’s great. You want to play for a guy like that, especially when he’s sitting 10 feet away from you and screaming ‘defense! Let’s go!’ And when there’s a great play, not a lot of owners are standing up and pumping their fists and screaming the entire game. When you’ve got somebody that like, it ups your intensity. It’s cool, man. I’m glad he’s here.
Me: You said you’ve been in the league nine years. When you see a young guy like Karl-Anthony Towns — you were a young guy and you know how hard it is when you’re just getting started — what do you see?
DJ: Just his mindset and his skill set. He’s super-skilled. He can face you up, he can post up. He’s shooting threes. He’s that evolved basketball player. And all those young guys are pretty good over there. I feel like definitely what’s going to help them a lot was having KG last year. He’s killing it, man. He’s a tough guy.
Me: Speaking of which, why aren’t you shooting threes? When is that evolution taking place?
DJ: ‘Cause you’ll probably hear ‘sub’ shortly after, for me coming out of the game. And then, Doc yelling at me. And then, me going back in. I’ve shot a few threes. And I forced a couple of threes as well, with like seven seconds on the clock, and then I was like, ‘ah, Doc, I couldn’t find anybody, so I had to shoot it!’ But J.J. (Redick) was wide open in the corner, or something like that. I made one. I made one. And I don’t let them live it down. ‘Cause it was all net, too.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
I apologize if I offended some but I didn't mean no disrespect towards coach Pop, one of the Goat . I'm just trying to have fun.
— Emmanuel Mudiay (@emmanuelmudiay) January 20, 2017
— Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (@emmanuelmudiay), Friday, 12:18 am, responding after getting caught celebrating Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich being ejected from Thursday’s game with Denver. No need to apologize, young fella; it reminded of Rosie O’Donnell’s quite pleased response when her own manager was ejected in “A League of Their Own.”
THEY SAID IT
“I didn’t see that until just now, but I don’t play that game. I’m gonna get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don’t know when it’s gonna be, but I don’t play that game. He hit me kinda hard, but that’s all right. I’m gonna get his ass back. Straight up.”
— Russell Westbrook, after the Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia knocked him down and then stood over him near the end of the first half of Golden State’s win over the Thunder last Wednesday. Pachulia was called for a flagrant foul on the play. Westbrook also said he and Kevin Durant aren’t on speaking terms at the moment.
“To me, I think he’s got a chance to be one of the best players or maybe the best player (in the franchise’s history). You’ve still Paul with a bunch of time left, too, and you had Reggie (Miller) here with all the other great ones. But being a 20-year-old and doing what this kid is doing just blows my mind. The sky is the limit. He’s still playing with Paul George and Paul gets a little frustrated at him at times, but night in and night out that kid battles you. With his work ethic, his desire, his mentality to be great, I think the future is unbelievable for that young man.”
— Larry Bird, to the Indianapolis Star, during a Q&A on the Pacers that included his thoughts on second-year center Myles Turner, the team’s 2015 first-round pick.
“The shocking part is that they didn’t catch Belichick.”
— Mark Cuban, Mavs owner and Pittsburgh Steelers fan, to local reporters, on the fire alarm that was pulled at the Steelers’ hotel in suburban Boston Sunday morning, before Pittsburgh played New England in the AFC championship game.
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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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