- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- As is the case with most feuds, the participants have a hard time remembering exactly why they don't like each other, except for the fact that they, well, don't like each other.
Trying to stroll down memory lane in search of an exact reason or incident seems inconsequential.
For the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, the genesis of their feud is no longer important to them. But it might help others to explain why these two star-crossed franchises, which have never met in the postseason before Saturday, dislike each other so much.
"You would have thought they won the NBA Finals"
All good rivalries need a good instigator and the light that lit the flame on the Clippers-Warriors rivalry was the Warriors' bench, led by Kent Bazemore during the 2012-13 season.
Mark Jackson, who was then in his second year as the Warriors' coach, wanted his bench to get more involved games. He wanted them to celebrate after every big play and be totally into the game. No one took this more than Bazemore, who was an undrafted rookie out of Old Dominion. His over-the-top celebrations on the sideline became so legendary that it earned a nickname: "Bazemoring."
The birth of "Bazemoring" coincided with the birth of the Clippers-Warriors rivalry. When the two teams met in 2012-13 in the third game of the season, the Clippers had just come off of back-to-back wins against the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers. A win over the Warriors, a team that had won 23 games the previous season seemed like an afterthought. Before the game, Clippers players were already talking about a postgame party in Hollywood to commemorate the launch of Chris Paul's new shoe.
Not only would the Warriors go on to win the game 114-110 and serve notice they were legitimate contenders now, their bench celebrated every big play just a little bit more than usual. When Steph Curry took a charge from Paul to seal the win with 7.5 seconds left, the Warriors bench went crazy and a rivalry was officially born.
"You would have thought they won the NBA Finals," Paul would later say.
That was just the beginning of the rivalry and the Clippers' growing dislike for the Warriors.
"He's a great actor. I've seen those Kia commercials."
When the two teams met again two months later, the Warriors once again beat the Clippers, 115-94, but that was far from their biggest gripe.
In the third quarter, Griffin got tangled up with Festus Ezeli in midair on a play in which Ezeli was given a flagrant foul 1. David Lee was telling Griffin to "stop flopping" during the game and afterward, Jackson said his part. "He's a great actor," Jackson said. "I've seen those Kia commercials."
A few minutes later in the third quarter with the Clippers down 12 points, Griffin attempted a corner 3-pointer that hit the side of the basket. Bazemore and the Warriors bench immediately got up and started celebrating as if they were courtside at the slam-dunk contest.
The Warriors had quickly turned from an annoyance to a full-fledged rival for the Clippers.
"It was just a good, old-fashioned, heavyweight championship stare-down."
The Clippers and Warriors would play three times that January. The Warriors would win two of those games and go on to win the season series 3-1. In the one game the Clippers did win 115-89, they made sure to rub it in, celebrating after every big dunk the way the Warriors had.
During one stretch in the third quarter, Paul hit DeAndre Jordan for three straight lob dunks, prompting Jackson to call a timeout in which he spent almost the entire time glaring at celebrating Clippers bench.
"It was just a good old-fashioned heavyweight championship stare-down. That's all," Jackson said. "But they earned the right to celebrate, the way they played. So what you've got to do as a coach or as a player is just let it soak in and remember it. That's all. Mark it down with permanent ink."
When the two teams met again for the final time, the Warriors won and Bazemore and the Warriors bench once again celebrated after Griffin air-balled a 3-pointer.
"That's a young team that's improving, for sure, but we have our sights set on trying to play in June," Jamal Crawford said after the game. "I'm not saying they don't. But we're looking at bigger goals than celebrating everything."
"Both teams don't care for each other much."
The Clippers and Warriors picked up right where they left off last season to start this season when the Clippers surprised the Warriors by scheduling separate pregame chapel services before their Oct. 31 game. It's customary in the NBA for teams to have chapel together, but the Clippers wanted nothing to do with the Warriors.
When they got on the court, Griffin and Jackson got into it after Griffin bumped into Jackson while taking the ball out of bounds. "He was taking it out and he bumped me twice," Jackson said. "I wasn't going to let it happen a third time."
Griffin laughed it off saying, "Before the game coach said we have to find a body and box out, and I just mistook him. It was my fault. It was nothing, really. He thought it was more than I thought it was."
"We played there last year and they were dancing and all that stuff," Paul said after the game. "Both teams don't care for each other much. It is what it is."
"That's cowardly basketball."
Perhaps the most heated game of the young Clippers-Warriors rivalry took place on Christmas Day. After once again bypassing a customary joint chapel session, both teams commenced a classic game that would result in two ejections and multiple scraps.
Draymond Green was ejected for throwing an elbow at Griffin, who got a technical after he had to be held back by his teammates at the end of the third quarter while jawing with Green. Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Griffin was ejected after getting tangled up with Bogut in the paint and trying to get free. Bogut was given a flagrant foul and was involved in a brief altercation with Paul after the Warriors won the game 105-103.
"If you look at it, I didn't do anything, and I got thrown out of the game," Griffin said afterward. "It all boils down to they [the referees] fell for it. To me, that's cowardly. That's cowardly basketball."
"Leave that s--- on the court."
The Clippers won the final regular-season game against the Warriors in March to split the season series 2-2, but of course, that game wasn't without some drama. Green and Griffin once again got tangled up with Green wrestling Griffin to the ground. And Jermaine O'Neal and Jordan both got technical fouls.
O'Neal got his technical foul as he walked toward the Clippers' bench in the fourth quarter and continued talking to Griffin before O'Neal's teammates and officials directed him back to the Warriors' bench. After the game, O'Neal approached Griffin outside the Clippers' locker room and the two had a heated conversation that was quickly broken up by a Clippers official who led Griffin to the adjacent news conference room.
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."
So where does that feud stand going into Saturday's Game 1?
"I don't have Jermaine's number," Griffin said. "I don't really talk to him so I don't know if there's a lingering issue or not."