Ask the big man, and he might tell you those people don't even exist. Not like they do in the Bay Area, at least.
O'Neal, one of the primary pot-stirrers in the NBA's most exciting rivalries, threw some more fuel on the fire after Golden State's 138-98 loss to the Clippers Monday night. The 35-year-old lauded his team's fanbase and blasted that of his first-round opponent's, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
"We have a better fan base, to be honest," Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal said when comparing fans with Clippers.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 22, 2014
Considering the caliber of shots already fired between these teams, O'Neal's words might hit with the force of a blank.
Monday's game was a yawner from the start. The Clippers had a double-digit lead less than six minutes into the game and a 26-point edge by halftime. Yet, these teams still combined for six technical fouls and one flagrant foul.
For the second time this season, there was a verbal confrontation between a player and an opposing coach:
Doc Rivers and Jermaine O'Neal exchanged words, just like Mark Jackson and Blake Griffin did in Nov. Even the coaches get into this rivalry.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 22, 2014
If this isn't a rivalry, then those no longer exist in the NBA. No teams bring a larger container of bad blood to the hardwood than these two.
The bright lights of the postseason have only turned up the heat between them.
"The Warriors and Clippers already had the antagonism," NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper wrote. "Now they have the playoffs to make it real."
Taking aim at Clippers fans won't bring O'Neal more than a few extra boos during his next trip to Staples Center. Assuming, of course, he can even hear them over the boos he's already drawn for confronting Blake Griffin outside the Clippers locker room earlier this season.
If O'Neal's assessment of the rival fanbases is correct, it wouldn't be too surprising.
The Warriors don't share an arena, let alone a city, with another NBA franchise. The Clippers have always played little brother to the Los Angeles Lakers, a franchise as rich with tradition as any in the league.
The bonds between the city and its Lakers aren't easy to break, but the suddenly star-studded Clippers have started to make inroads. The Clippers finished fourth in home attendance percentage this season (100.8), ahead of both the Warriors (100.0, tied for sixth) and the Lakers (98.8, 10th), via ESPN.
The Lakers, though, crushed their Pacific Division foes in team merchandise sales at NBAStore.com. The Purple and Gold finished second, via Comcast SportsNet, well ahead of the Warriors (eighth) and the Clippers (10th).
Championships and legacies seem to talk loudest to the game's global fans. Both the Warriors and the Clippers are still in the resume-building stages of those pursuits.
O'Neal's barks are entertaining, but these teams are more concerned about the bites that lay ahead.