The lack of chemistry in the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room was no secret during the 2019/20 season and things boiled over to the point where the team relinquished a 3-1 lead to be sent packing by the Denver Nuggets in the playoff semis.
Most of the friction is believed to have stemmed from the preferential treatment given to superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Kawhi’s pregame routine is said to have made some people around the team uncomfortable as it sometimes meant female staffers in away arenas were unable to access their own locker rooms while the forward prepared for games.
The Athletic‘s recent Clippers autopsy lists a number of perks afforded to Leonard and George that contributed to the lack of togetherness in the team’s locker room. You could see them below:
• Leonard and George were the only players to have their own personal security guards and trainers.
• Leonard and George had power over the team’s practice and travel schedule, leading teammates to believe Leonard canceled multiple practices.
• Leonard was allowed to live in San Diego and commute from there, which often made him late for team flights.
• Leonard and George typically didn’t speak to the media until at least 45 minutes after games concluded, under the guise of postgame treatment or workouts. This usually resulted in their teammates speaking with the media first, and for longer, essentially becoming the public voices of the team.
• Teammates also believed that Leonard and George were able to pick and choose when they played. Not only did they sit out games entirely, but also at times they accepted or declined playing time in the moment.
“How do you ever build a strong team with that shit going on?” a team source was quoted as saying. “I thought from the beginning, ‘We’re doomed. Kawhi wants too much special treatment.’”
The Clippers will head into next season a very different team. For one, Doc Rivers is no longer at the helm, having paid the ultimate price for the team’s failure; he was replaced by Tyronn Lue. Montrezl Harrel, an emotional leader, has since moved to the Los Angeles Lakers in perhaps the most surprising turn of events where the team is concerned.
The likes of Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum are set to begin next term as Clippers. The ball club will hope for better chemistry moving forward as missing out on another title could fashion a death knell for the roster as we know it.
As for preferential treatment, we don’t imagine Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will continue to enjoy such under the new head coach.