The Clippers/Warriors rivalry has produced technical fouls, flagrant fouls and fines in recent years, and all of that animosity spilled over into the Staples Center hallway on Wednesday.
Griffin was posing for pictures when he was approached by the angry backup center for the Warriors. “Why you going to walk up on me like that?” Griffin asked O’Neal. “Leave that s--- on the court. Leave that s--- on the court.”
O’Neal snarled, shook Griffin’s hand and walked away. “Man, I’m a monster off the court,” O’Neal said, turning away.
Before Griffin walked into the postgame interview room, he responded. “Man, get out of here with that,” Griffin said.
The two had a heated conversation that was quickly broken up by a Clippers official who led Griffin to the adjacent news conference room. O'Neal, 35, had dressed and was waiting outside the Clippers' locker room to talk to Griffin.
Griffin, who was walking to the news conference room to take questions from reporters, could be heard telling O'Neal to "leave that s--- on the court" before the two were separated and briefly shook hands.
The exchange came after a typically testy game in which a total of four technical fouls, including one to O'Neal, were handed out by the officials.
Golden State had no answer for Griffin, who scored a game-high 30 points (on 13-for-28 shooting) and added 15 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Along the way, he threw down a massive, perfectly-timed putback dunk that helped kill the Warriors' spirits.
All's well that ends without a physical altercation, and at least no video surfaced of O'Neal chasing Griffin to the team bus, a la Carmelo Anthony and the Celtics last season. The relationship between these two teams is zany enough as it is.
A brief rundown of incidents involving the Clippers and Warriors includes: Griffin and Warriors coach Mark Jackson exchanging words after Griffin stepped on Jackson's foot; Jackson's Warriors refusing to participate in chapel with the Clippers; Jackson called Griffin a "great actor" back in January; former Warriors guard Kent Bzemore and his benchmates goofing off after Griffin missed a three-pointer off the side of the backboard; Griffin spinning to the floor thanks to a Festus Ezeli flagrant foul; Griffin being ejected from a Christmas Day game after receiving a flagrant foul from Draymond Green; and Griffin accusing the Warriors of "cowardly" play following that game. Surely there have been more, but that's a pretty healthy sampling.
Much like the recent war of words between Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, this is a good one to file away with the playoffs fast approaching. Currently, the Clippers are the West's No. 3 seed and the Warriors are the No. 6 seed, so they would square off in what would be by far the most anticipated first-round match-up if it holds. There's still a long way to go, though, Golden State does a good shot at passing a reeling Portland team, and L.A. must hold off a hot Houston club, among other possible spoiling possibilities. Hat tip: Ball Don't Lie