Monson: Jazz-Clippers feud is a beautiful thing

First Published      Last Updated Mar 14 2017 03:23 pm

I love this stuff.

The Jazz and Clippers mixing it up in their game Monday night. It's what the NBA needs more of, what the Jazz need more of. Enough of the playing nice and patting everybody on the fanny and NBA players on many teams fraternizing and all, playing sweet-faced and so lovey-dovey.

Forget that.

We get that the league is a multi-millionaires club now. It's a tight group. Everybody who plays NBA basketball wins. Maybe not the games, but in life, making generational money, capitalizing on the benefits of a ridiculously strong basketball economy.

But the nasty, raw-boned competition, that's the beautiful thing.

When Rudy Gobert inadvertently elbowed JJ Redick in a tight second half, and Redick protested back, that's exactly what Redick should have done. He should have gotten mad. And then Gobert should have gotten mad at Redick for getting mad.

The Clips and Jazz are battling for home-court advantage in the playoffs, sending messages back and forth in a first-round matchup that's bound to happen, that now has to happen. Please, basketball gods, let it, make it happen.

The Clippers are the old guys who have been in the playoffs for a while now, frustrated by their inability to go as deep as they've been expected to go. The Jazz are the upstarts who will make the postseason for the first time in a fistful of years. The way they see it, this is their time, not anybody else's.

It's been a long spell since the Jazz have shown this kind of fire. They were viewed as everyone's nice guys in recent seasons. In a Sports Illustrated ranking, in 2015, they topped the Schadenfreude ratings as the least-hated team in the NBA, "with no rough edges to irritate." That ranking said the Jazz had "no dominant style about which to turn up your nose, no offensive personalities at whom to seethe."

What an insult.

Everybody loves the guys they can beat.

And now … not anymore.

Led by Gobert, the Jazz are on their way to becoming fearless.

Just ask Chris Paul, who shoved Gobert twice at the end of the game and complained later Monday night about Gobert talking a lot.

That's rich, the Clippers complaining about the Jazz talking. The Clippers may be the biggest bunch of whiners anywhere in the league. And that's OK, too.

Two teams, from opposite ends of the spectrum, talking at each other, getting mad, pushing and shoving and elbowing, all with playoff spots at stake, all with a hopeful collision coming in the first round. The Clippers with their current composition at stake, the Jazz with big plans and big dreams for the future, starting right now.

Monday night's game was a whole lot of fun because the players cared, played hard, played mean, popped off on one another, drawing technicals, getting the crowd even more riled up than it was to begin with.

It was what would have been expected from the Clippers, what may have been unexpected from the team with no rough edges to irritate.

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