The L.A. Clippers are trying to change their notorious name as the biggest complainers in the NBA.
Doc Rivers‘ team is widely known throughout the league and it’s fans as the team that complains about every call. In reality, a lot of teams complain, most notably the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors, but the Clippers have seemingly had this target on their back for a couple years now.
During the 2015-16 season, Chris Paul was whistled for 12 technical fouls (tied for third in the league), DeAndre Jordan was whistled for 11 techs (tied for sixth), and Blake Griffin was whistled for seven techs (tied for 17th in the league). Jamal Crawford, known as a relatviely quiet guy, was whistled for five technicals as well, (tied for 33rd in the NBA). The only team who came close to that technical foul count was the Washington Wizards, who had John Wall accumulate 12 technicals and Markieff Morris 10 technicals.
The 2014-15 season was even worse, with the Clippers having six players in the top 36 players with the most technical fouls (Griffin with 10, Jordan with eight, Lance Stephenson with six, and Crawford, Paul as well as J.J. Redick all with five techs each).
This season, the Clippers only have Jordan (nine technicals, third in the NBA) and Austin Rivers four technicals as well as two ejections, 18th in the NBA). Alongside Jordan and the younger Rivers is their head coach, who has been ejected three times in just over two months of the season).
Clearly, something has got to change for this team to lose its bad reputation as a “whiners” and get back on the right track. After Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, a tightly-contested game with a controversial whistle or two, Coach Rivers introduced to his team to a new program that would have him donate money from the fines accrued from technical fouls to an organization called the Violence Intervention Program, a community mental health center that helps abused women and children.
“I told them from now on, every technical foul that I get, there’s where my money will go, and it’s retroactive. So, all of the money that I have been fined is going to them now and any technical after that is going to them.”
Rivers added that he has to take responsibility for his actions, which haven’t shown the necessary leadership and restraint in recent weeks.
“I’ve been thrown out of three games this year. I told them that is not me and that is not going to happen and that i have to be the leader of this team.
There are other teams that complain just as much as us and there are times that as a coach, I have to do my job and I am never going to change. I am always doing to be feisty and I want to fight for my team every night. But i also want us to be better, so I started it tonight.”
In addition to his technical foul fines being donated to the organization of his choice, Rivers is holding every single player accountable and having them donate technical foul fines to organizations of their choice.
“Any technical foul the players get, i want them to find their group and give it to an organization, because we have to be better. At the end of the day, I just didn’t like the look of it.”
Jordan, who had an 18 points and 20 rebounds against Memphis, held himself from saying anything to an official on a play he thought was a clean block, but was ruled a foul. Instead, Jordan clapped his hands loudly, displaying the restraint expected from Doc Rivers.
“It’s extremely tough [to control our emotions],” said Jordan. “We’ve got to do a better job. We’re on the officials a lot, from myself, to Chris, Blake, Doc, and all of us. Even if we don’t agree with the call, we got to let stuff go and just play.”
Austin Rivers said he never got technical fouls before he came to L.A. That’s not entirely true, as he’s had four techs during his time with the New Orleans Pelicans, but has already totaled 11 in his time with the Clippers. Much of that can be attributed to the major increase in playing time as well as playing for a contending team, but it could also be something he picked up from other teammates.
“I didn’t get any techs before I came here,” the younger Rivers said after the Grizzlies game while shaking his head and looking at Jordan next to him in the postgame interview.
When told he was among the league leaders in technical fouls at the time with seven, Rivers couldn’t believe it.
“Am I really one of the league leaders, how many do I have?
“This is all I’m going to say. For the rest of the year, I’m not going to get any more. I’ve never been the guy to get a lot of technicals. I guess its just emotions, we’re competitive, we just have to channel it in a better way.
“That’s definitely not something I’ve ever done and I don’t want to get into that. We cleared that up. No more after that, I’m done.”
Since introducing the program, Doc Rivers’ club has only been whistled for one technical foul in two games, which was called on DeAndre Jordan for screaming “call the foul, man!” after being pushed in the back by Sacramento Kings‘ center DeMarcus Cousins.
Some coaches argue that technical fouls can get a team pumped or refocused, but in the Clippers’ case, it’s just been excessive and unnecessary. Hopefully, this program changes the way the team views each game and takes whistles against them a little lighter.
“I didn’t like my look but more importantly, I didn’t like our team,” said coach Rivers. “We are better than that.”