After a particularly intense, hard-fought game against the Suns on Thursday, it seemed the Clippers should be in for some accolades. They’d won their third straight game, all coming against top teams in the West—the Lakers and Blazers were the other two—and they moved into sole possession of the No. 3 seed in the conference.
On the NBA on TNT studio show postgame, Hall of Fame big guy Charles Barkley was discussing the Clippers, and for a short while, he was complimentary, brushing off the fact that the Suns had played the previous night.
“I don’t want to disrespect the Clippers like that, saying it was just that the Suns played last night,” Barkley said. “It is a tough game, though, to play the Jazz, it was an overtime game, the Clippers got a good, solid team and they played well tonight.”
Follow the Heavy on Clippers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content out of Clipper Nation!
Ah, but Barkley could not really hold back, however. When it came time to acknowledge the Clippers as contenders, Barkley backed off.
“They’re pretenders,” he said.
But it got worse.
Barkley REALLY Unloads on Clippers, History
When the studio screen showed a tweet from a viewer with a long string of laughing emojis and the words, “Charles Barkley really said the Clippers weren’t contenders,” Barkley pounced, digging in on the franchise’s long record of futility.
Barkley said: “I’ve been poor, I’ve been rich, I’ve been fat, I’ve been skinny, I’ve been old, I’ve been in the Hall of Fame and one thing I can always tell you, the Clippers have always sucked.”
As a matter of history, Barkley is right. The Clippers have played 43 seasons since leaving Buffalo (where they were the Braves) and have never once reached the Western Conference finals. They’ve only made the postseason 12 times in that span. So yes, on average, the Clippers have sucked.
But in the past nine seasons, the Clippers have made the playoffs eight times, and have been over .500 each year. They will both finish above .500 and reach the playoffs again this year and, after famously blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the conference semis last year, hope to finally break through to the conference finals. And beyond.
Ty Lue Happy With Win Over Suns
As for the Clippers, they were reveling in one of their better wins of the season, whether Barkley approved or not. The win over the Suns came with ample intensity and a playoff atmosphere. Two Clippers (Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris) were ejected, adding some chaotic flair to the game.
That suited coach Ty Lue, who told reporters after the game:
I don’t have any concerns, I love it. You’re competing at a high level against one of the best teams in the league, you do what you got to do to win. I thought our guys were physical, I thought we competed, I thought we fought. Just stayed the course. There’s gonna be games like this where it’s gonna get chippy. They’re fighting for something, we’re fighting for something, so it’s gonna happen. I’m ok with it.
[This] was a playoff-type game — hard fouls, ejections, guys competing at a high level. You need these types of games to kind of see where you are right now. Even though we still got a long way to go and we’re still progressing, I thought was a good win for us.