Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - On Christmas night, fans across the world got to watch the Golden State Warriors continue to perpetuate the notion that they are bringing "old fashioned basketball" back to the forefront.
That's what Mark Jackson would have you believe, or at least it's what he said following the Warriors 105-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. It came at the end of a long Christmas marathon of poor performances and uninteresting basketball.
There were several mini skirmishes throughout this matchup of Pacific Division rivals. Can we really classify these two franchises, both doormats prior to two seasons ago, as rivals?
"I still believe this isn't a rivalry because neither one of us have done anything," acknowledged Jackson.
Yet, that didn't stop the Warriors and Clippers playing like it was bloodsport.
Golden State's Draymond Green was ejected at the end of the third quarter for elbowing Blake Griffin in the throat. You know, that noted "old-fashioned basketball" play like getting the guy hand-checking you, off you, then elbowing him directly in the throat away from the play.
With 1:17 expired in the fourth quarter, Andrew Bogut, who is becoming the main problem person with the Warriors, and Griffin got tangled up battling for rebounding position. Bogut used his elbow to ward off Griffin and then grabbed his jersey. Griffin appeared to try to disengage, but Bogut got a Flagrant 1. Griffin got his second technical, (because he got one for making contact with Green's elbow with his Adam's Apple), and a free escort off the playing floor.
Griffin's absence absolutely cost the Clippers.
Let's call this what it was - a ploy by the Warriors to get Griffin ejected. It stinks. There's nothing old-fashioned, or clever about it. It's dirty pool.
Want to get a guy out of the game, get him into foul trouble. The assault by Green was cheap and the actions of someone who doesn't want any real altercation with Griffin.
The skirmish with Bogut was a different story. There was a battle for a rebound, but Bogut knew exactly what he was doing. He hooked Griffin in a manner that Griffin would have to raise his arms to some degree to free himself, and in doing so, cause attention to what was happening.
In the NBA, if you sneeze in someone's direction, both players are getting technicals. That simple. Nothing more to elaborate on.
"Both techs you could make a case that Blake shouldn't have gotten either one," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "But he did. I don't know what you're supposed to do on the second one, I didn't see that either. It looked like the guy was grabbing his jersey and Blake was flailing around trying to get loose."
Bogut is a great defender and a great rebounder. He's also becoming an expert in how to start unnecessary garbage during an NBA game. Bogut is the master of facing a player when trying to box out and using his arms as much as his lower body.
The risk run by facing a player up, is that generally the boxed out will try to use his arms to either grab for the ball, or to move the one boxing out. When it's done face-to-face, there's more of a chance getting hit in the face or throat and when that happens, it's go time.
Again, this was just a cheap, unsporting attempt by the Warriors to eliminate an enemy. I knew it, the fans knew it and the participants knew, although the aggrieved were the only ones to articulate it.
"I'm back here and if you look at it, I didn't do anything and got thrown out of the game," Griffin said from the Clips locker room. "Like I said, it all boils down to they fell for it. To me that's cowardly, cowardly basketball."
"I thought we were kicking their butt and they went to something else," Rivers said. "We have to have better composure and keep playing. I thought the basketball part we were showing them pretty well. All the other stuff, it worked in their favor, It was a smart thing for them to do."
That was just Rivers way of telling his team, and the league, through the media that what he watched smelled badly.
If this was an isolated incident, no reason to get lathered up, but the Warriors are becoming the antagonists of the NBA. That's not a title they should hold.
This Warriors team is a group that uses physicality under the disguise of hard-nosed sport. It's antagonism in the worst possible way. Baiting the opposing team's star into a second technical, after you elbow him in the throat when no one is looking to get the first, is just weak.
Earlier this season, the Warriors got into a "fight" with the Portland Trail Blazers. Bogut, once again, tangled with Joel Freeland and everyone on Portland took exception.
Guess who got ejected? Draymond Green. But also, for the Blazers, Mo Williams and Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge could've been easily tossed. (Bogut didn't get ejected despite instigating the physical play, then elbowing Freeland in the face.)
Last season, Golden State tussled with the Indiana Pacers when David Lee pushed Roy Hibbert during a rebound attempt.
There's smoke, but here's some free advice - don't get caught up in it. Bogut, nor anyone in the NBA frankly, wants to actually put up hands and throw 'em. They are doing it for a reaction.
Is that strategy? Sure. Did it work Christmas night? Yes.
Does it stink and fly in the face of competitive athletics? Absolutely.
"It's just physical basketball. We don't get caught up in it," said Jackson. "Fouls, hard fouls, rebounds and screens - just good old fashioned basketball."
Incorrect, but good job not getting caught up in it ... during all three of your altercations the past season-and-a-half. (Actually four because Golden State got chippy when the Houston Rockets went for the NBA record for most 3- pointers made in a game last season. Who got ejected from that one, Draymond Green).
Your Warriors start it all and act phony brave to eliminate others. That's not tough. Griffin is right - it's cowardly.
- The sleeved NBA jerseys worn on Christmas are stupid, yes. It's just a ploy to make more money. The notion that they hampered shooters, as Beno Udrih embarrassingly tried to sell, is ridiculous. Si.com's Chris Mannix tweeted this after the Knicks and Thunder played: "Kevin Durant noted that many NBA players practice with t-shirts under their practice shirts. Used to shooting with sleeves." Excellent point.
- The Christmas schedule stunk, but there's an element of unknown and assumption when making the schedule so far in advance. It was a rough day for the association since Dec. 25 generally belongs to them, the Griswolds, Rudolph and Ralphie.
- Brook Lopez broke his foot again. That's the sign. There's no coming out of it for Brooklyn. The Nets won't be able to trade Joe Johnson or Deron Williams, but they could get something for Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. Move everyone. Give Kidd a chance to improve because lost in this debacle is the fact that Kidd is a bad coach. You can't blame him for injuries, but he is not good on the sidelines, so let him work through it without expectations. Or, fire Kidd now and chalk it up to a humiliating loss. If you don't have faith in him long-term, fire him after 30 games.
- Movie moment - Got a $25 movie gift card for Christmas. Last saw "The Dark Knight Rises" in a theater. Longest drought between trips to the theater and I blame the 35-pound wrecking ball in our house. Not as long as my dad's drought of "Dragnet" (Hanks/Aykroyd, 1987) to "Charlie Wilson's War" (Hanks again, 2007).
- TV moment - TV Guide named "The Sopranos" the best series off all time. Hard to argue, but wouldn't have been my choice. I'd fill out my ballot like this: 1. "Seinfeld" 2. "Cheers" 3. "Sopranos" 4. "Saturday Night Live" and 5. "The West Wing."