Well, the Golden State Warriors are still undefeated. They came back to beat the Los Angeles Clippers on the road on Thursday night to go to 13-0, one win behind the 1957-58 Boston Celtics for the longest winning streak to start the season after winning a title (those Celtics, amazingly, did not repeat because Bill Russell suffered a foot injury — they just won the next eight). It was a hard-fought game with a playoff atmosphere, just like every Warriors-Clippers game.
During the broadcast, color commentator Reggie Miller called Clips-Dubs the best rivalry in the NBA, and we have a hard time arguing with him. But Blake Griffin says not so fast:
We understand where Blake’s coming from. The Warriors seem to be on a different plane of existence from everyone else, and the Clippers dropped three of four games to the Dubs last season (they’ve gone 10-4 against them since the beginning of the 2012-13 season). But try using the “better team” argument to tell Red Sox fans that they didn’t have a rivalry with the Yankees all those years that New York was comfortably ahead of them. The definition of a rivalry is hard to pin down, but it comes from some combination of the level of competitiveness during games (in the case of Clips-Dubs, extremely high), the level of emotion during games (again, extremely high), and hatred between fanbases (who knows, it’s California, but that generally takes years to develop).
But the real reason so many consider Clips-Dubs to be a rivalry is that 2014 playoff series. You know, when the Warriors were a year away but still feisty as all hell? That was one of the best early-round playoff series in recent memory, and when the Warriors were more prepared last postseason, they wanted their revenge. But fate, and the Houston Rockets’ comeback, conspired against it.
So, go ahead and say it’s not a rivalry, Blake. It’s a humble look, and it doesn’t look half bad, but if the two teams should happen to face each other again in the playoffs, it’ll sure feel like a rivalry.