I have a confession to make about DeAndre Jordan.
I have hated the lob city incarnation of the Clippers from the moment its pieces first came together. Chris Paul’s transformation from potential Lakers savior to scowling Napoleonic tormenter and Blake Griffin’s thing for Kias and being a wimp will never sit well with me. I have not enjoyed their relative success, not one bit. But secretly I’ve always kind of rooted for DeAndre.
He’s fun as hell to watch, a 7-foot athletic progeny put on this earth to run and jump and dunk a basketball. If the rim were 12 feet in the air, DJ would already be a five-time MVP. Of course, the one thing he was put on this earth not to do is shoot free throws.
It was painful to watch him treat the hoop like a driving range during the playoffs. It’s never fun to see a human being struggle at something that they simply aren’t capable of, amplified when millions of people are watching, as was the case with DJ. A team giving you free shots in lieu of defending you must be a steel-toed boot kick to the ego. So even though I wanted the Clips to lose every game they played, I would always quietly pull for him to sink his free throws.
Think about that. I was feeling empathy — sympathy even — for a guy who makes millions of dollars to run and jump and dunk a basketball. DeAndre Jordan has probably never once in his life had to fetch somebody coffee, professionally. And yet his failure for a team I hate woke my hibernating compassionate side. He was a goddamn beacon of light during the most shadowy times of the Staples Center. My respect for him rose even higher when he left the Clippers in the rear view mirror for a one-way ticket to Dallas and the insatiable bromance of Chandler Parsons.
Until he did this.
You just can’t do that. You can’t give someone your word in 2015 when there are tweets covering even your dreams and the thoughts you might think you’re having privately on the toilet. Not when you’re a major piece on the chessboard, with moves being made and lives being affected because of your decision. You can’t flip the board over and say, “Sike, I’m playing checkers because that’s what I’ve wanted to do the whole time.”
A famous story about John Wooden is that he wanted to take a job at the University of Minnesota, but it being 1948, a snowstorm in the Midwest left Minnesota officials out of contact from the entire world. By the time the storm passed, Wooden had given his word to UCLA and wouldn’t renege on it because of conceptual ideals like principle and honor. So we can officially say as of July 2015 that DeAndre Jordan is not John Wooden. Point, cynics.
The worst thing about all of this was that NBA free agency was already enough like the Bachelorette. I can’t figure out if it’s weirder that Chandler Parsons and DeAndre Jordan had dinner together five nights in a row or that I know about it. There was a serious emoji battle fought among grown men for his hand. If ever there was a movement for free agency to stop being an obsessive ritual of Chris Broussard’s nasal gossip, speculation, and the phrase “sources say,” DeAndre just set it back by decades.
So thanks, DeAndre. Thanks for letting the Clippers win you over with Stockholm Syndrome. Thanks for destroying all the human feelings I felt for you. Rest assured, I will watch you get hacked up and down the court this year and I will not once hope you sink the free throws. Of that I give you my word.
Or maybe not. Who knows anymore?