LAS VEGAS — It took a dose of The Starters to help bring Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back down. Minutes earlier, Gilgeous-Alexander had wrapped up a tremendous individual performance on his side of a fun tete-a-tete with Houston Rockets rookie De’Anthony Melton at Thomas & Mack Center at Las Vegas Summer League. It was one of the best head-to-heads of the tournament so far, and while Gilgeous-Alexander came out looking great — 25 points and a well-stuffed stat sheet around them — he was perturbed by a 104-90 loss.
“I don’t even care about my good game,” Gilgeous-Alexander said on the walk back from The Starters set on the upper concourse to the parking garage. “It wasn’t worth it in the end, I guess you could say. I’d rather have a bad game and win than have a good game and lose. The ultimate goal is to win, and if I don’t do that, I don’t feel satisfied.”
As they are wont to do, The Starters brought the necessary levity to allow Gilgeous-Alexander to put the loss behind him, at least momentarily. His fellow Canadians presented him with an ice cream cake for his upcoming 20th birthday, baited him to pander to his home country by choosing Tim Hortons over Starbucks (despite not being a coffee drinker), and opened him up about his trend-setting draft-night floral pattern.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s charming smile got to take the stage for those few minutes, replacing a competitive scowl that still wasn’t far from his mind as the segment wrapped.
“Yeah, it was fun,” the Clippers’ rookie said in retrospect. “Lighten up the mood a little bit, obviously just losing. But it was fun.”
Clearly, Gilgeous-Alexander is not taking the attitude that wins and losses matter less here in Summer League. The Clippers are 1-2 ahead of the elimination rounds, making it tough for Gilgeous-Alexander to enjoy any of his own individual success, of which there’s been plenty. This, more than anything — more than the length, more than his preternatural feel for angles and how to vary tempo, more than his defensive upside — is what drew the Los Angeles Clippers to the Hamilton-born guard and enticed them to use the No. 11 pick on him.