We’re pretty used to players and coaches using the press to sound off on their peers. Indeed, what would an NBA season be without a few verbal beefs to spice things up?
Seldom, however, do you see those invectives cross league lines.
Doc Rivers wants nothing of your polite protocol:
Shots fired by Doc Rivers on Dallas Cowboys - disputes idea that Clippers AND Cowboys are "America's team." Note: he's a Bears fan.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 6, 2014
Doc: "I don't know if some of the teams called America's team have earned it, being a Bears fan."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 6, 2014
Oh, that’s going to go over well.
Now, some context is in order here: Rivers was referencing a growing sentiment—particularly within the media ranks—that his Los Angeles Clippers have, by virtue of their current predicament, become “America’s Team.”
Whether or not that amounts to a more compelling genesis than the opening narration of some team-sponsored highlight film, we'll let you be the judge.
Judging by some of the figures cited by ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi, however, the moniker might not be such a baseless one for the Clippers:
Last Sunday’s Game 4, which was the Clippers first game after the controversy, drew 6.5 million viewers on ABC, which was up 48 percent from the 4.4 million who watched Game 1 on the network six days earlier. More than 4.7 million viewers watched Game 5 on TNT just hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced a lifetime ban for Sterling. That was up 34 percent from an average of 3.5 million for the previous two Clippers-Warriors playoff games on the network.
That there’s a lot of eyeballs.
And for good reason: Following revelations that Donald Sterling had been caught on tape making overtly racist remarks to his girlfriend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver promptly banned the Clippers’ owner for life from any official association with the league, sparking a socio-political firestorm that has shown few signs of subsiding.
On Sunday it was reported that the NBA is looking to involve Rivers in the search for a new Clippers CEO—once the playoffs are over, that is.
Speaking of which: The Clippers began their much-anticipated conference semifinals showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night.
Getting back to story at hand: Rivers’ quip might be one of the best subtle intra-sports digs in recent memory. Indeed, not only is Doc taking shots at America’s most popular sport, but he’s also got the most popular team right in his verbal crosshairs.
If ever there were a chance for one’s Twitter mentions to ramp up so quickly and violently that the actual computer catches fire, this might be it.