Right at the start of Thursday night’s Clippers-Lakers game at the Staples Center, we got this tweet from Stephen A. Smith. It featured Smith’s version of what he thought we could expect from Clippers guard Patrick Beverley on the evening. Sure, it was funny and got ridiculed, but if you know anything about Beverley’s style of play, it makes perfect sense.
Beverley is the most annoying basketball player in the NBA. This sounds like a slight against him, but it’s meant as a compliment and Beverley would take it as such. He relishes the opportunity to lock a guy down on defense and, if he’s lucky, get in their head.
So obviously, he was going to try and make Ball’s NBA debut hell. During the first quarter, Beverley absolutely hounded Ball, and as it turns out, that was a smart move. Ball was trying to tuck his jersey into his shirt before the ball was inbounded, so Beverley saw a window of opportunity. He took it.
As you can see, Ball was a little annoyed. He said something to Beverley, then to get the ball inbounded, Ball pushed the veteran guard away.
That was the moment Beverley knew that he had gotten under Ball’s skin. While the rookie was dribbling up the court, Beverley was chirping and pointing at him. He even decided to foul Ball once the ball got over half court — it wasn’t anything worth chastising, Beverley just saw another window to annoy Ball.
This ended up being a really good idea.
Ball went into the backcourt to retrieve the inbounds pass. Because it was coming in from the frontcourt, this was a turnover. Beverley responded by getting fired up and screaming some, uh, choice words at Ball, who just stood there with a blank look on his face as he was trying to move past his mistake.
Beverley isn’t the kind of guy who is ever going to win an MVP award or anything, but if you’re a rookie point guard, he might be the last guy you want to face off against in your debut. He is going to do everything in his power to make your first game in the league as hard as possible, either by playing outstanding defense or by getting so far in your head that he owes you rent at the end of the month.
It certainly worked on Thursday.