It must be frustrating for a person’s greatest strength to also be their greatest weakness.
Such is the case for one Patrick Beverley, his strength being his passion. His entire career, he’s been deemed the “energy” guy—a tenacious defender who is willing to go a step further than anyone else on the court to frustrate his opponent, getting up in an offensive player’s airspace to the point of harassment. Beyond that, he’ll dive on the court for loose balls, do jumping jacks in front of an inbounder and, crucially, talk trash to no end.
Beverley channels his passion in ways that benefit his team, for the most part. But every now and then, the irrigation system that distributes this passion within him is routed incorrectly, and the result is a bone-headed, immature tantrum that does nothing but legitimize the criticism aimed at him.
Wednesday night’s shove was a perfect example of this incorrect routing.
With Game 6 firmly out of the Clippers’ reach and the Phoenix Suns already looking ahead to the NBA Finals, Chris Paul walked past Beverley. It was unclear if Paul said anything provocative, but he didn’t even appear to open his mouth based on the broadcast. Even so, something inside Beverley was ignited, and he elected to shove Paul in the back with all his will.
He was immediately ejected, of course. The shove didn’t even occur during play, or anywhere near a basketball. You could almost see Beverley’s thought process, or lack thereof. The two had been battling all series, and Beverley was called for a flagrant foul on Paul one game prior (“way to sell it,” Beverley appeared to jokingly say to Paul after what he deemed to be a well-executed flop from the Suns’ point guard). Two nights later, all of that energy he’d been channeling all series towards defending Paul seemed to spontaneously combust, and the result was an extremely unsportsmanlike push that sent Paul to the ground. His passion betrayed him, and he’ll likely face a well-deserved suspension next season according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.
Despite these sorts of outbursts, for which there are no excuses, Beverley can be a thoughtful, level-headed guy when he’s not in the heat of basketball battle. He’s great in media sessions, giving nuanced answers and remaining respectful towards reporters as long as they offer him the same courtesy. So it’s not a surprise that, after a night of reflection, he took to Twitter to own up to his error and make amends with Paul.
“@CP3 emotions got the best of me last night gang,” Beverley tweeted. “My bad wasn’t meant for you. Congrats on making it to the Finals. Best of Luck.”
Paul has yet to respond to the tweet. After it was determined that Beverley was ejected the night before, Paul was seen on the broadcast cheering.
It’s not unreasonable to think that after nine years in the NBA, Beverley would’ve found a way to manage this sort of aggression. Perhaps he doesn’t want to, as it is what enables him to play at an All-Defense level. Even still, that sort of bush league move could’ve easily negated his stellar play throughout the series. Let’s say the game wasn’t out of reach, and LA was aiming to mount a comeback and force a Game 7. Beverley, their best guard defender, would’ve missed the remainder of Game 6 and almost certainly Game 7 due to an ejection/suspension. Perhaps Beverley figured he had nothing to lose by committing the shove after his team had already admitted defeat, but it’s hard to imagine he did any sort of calculating before committing such an impulsive act.
Beverley is still under contract with the Clippers for next season, and he’ll no-doubt be an integral part of their hunt for a title in 2021-22. The Clippers will be more than happy to take the good with the bad with him, but perhaps he’ll finally find a way to solve the incorrect routing issue this offseason.