Pursuing Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers built a culture, roster and narrative that matches his work ethic

first_img Kristaps Porzingis ruled out as Clippers, Mavericks set for Game 5; Follow for game updates For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory This past season, the Clippers’ buy-in to the work-hard, kick-butt approach that Beverley described had a lot to do with the camaraderie that led to the team’s success. Now it could, conceivably, pay off this offseason.“You have to understand who are the type of people you want in your program,” Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, said during the playoffs. “Usually, like-minded people – they may have different personalities, you may have some who are more extroverted and some introverted, and some that react to different things – at their core, like to be around similarly focused people.“So, high-character, competitive, tough, and over-yourself and into-the-team guys, usually they’re attracted to each other,” he continued. “And when you blend those personalities with an elite coach, you know, special things can happen.”Leonard’s reputation is that of a low-maintenance, basketball-obsessed workaholic. As of 2016, he was driving the same ’97 Chevy Tahoe he piloted around the Inland Empire in high school, according to reporting by Lee Jenkins, the Sports Illustrated scribe since turned Clippers’ executive director of research and identity.In a recent piece posted by “The Athletic,” Leonard’s former San Diego State teammates shared stories about the quiet, long-limbed forward beating everyone to the gym, outlasting them there and then, in off-hours, breaking into the place to shoot by lamplight.In San Antonio, he maintained his rep as the guy staying so late refining his 3-pointer, his post moves, his jab-step, his jump hook, all those now-familiar weapons, that Gregg Popovich reportedly had to tell his assistant coaches to chase Leonard out of the gym.In 2015, Leonard signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs in an apartment complex conference room, in gym clothes because he was between the second of three shooting drills that summer day.“My motivation wasn’t really to get a $95 million contract, you know?” Leonard told the San Diego Union-Tribune soon after. “I’m not out here just for the money. I want to be a great player. I don’t feel anything changed. I already had money and security. You definitely see a difference in some guys’ games when they do get paid. I’m trying to make sure I’m not that player.”Leonard, a three-time All-Star, is now a two-time NBA champion after the Raptors held off the Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night in Oakland. Leonard, who joined LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in league history to win Finals MVP awards for two different franchises, averaged 30.5 points on 49 percent shooting this postseason for the Raptors. He also contributed 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game (while remaining non-committal about his future) as he led Toronto to its first Finals appearance in his first season with the team.So, sure, that’s excellent, but don’t expect Leonard even to consider taking his foot off the gas.“All I want to do is get better,” he said in a 2015 NBA.com story. “I love to play this game. It’s all that I ever really wanted to do and now that I’m doing it in the NBA, I want to be as good as possible.”The Clippers also have such single-minded basketball devotees, including point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a rookie starter this season who too has to be forced off the floor on occasion.“He just is basketball,” Natalie Nakase, a Clippers player development coach, said of Gilgeous-Alexander last season. “I remember working with him in the summer at a camp and we would have to kick him off, like, ‘Shai, we gotta go home.’ ‘Yeah, but one more!’ And then 15 minutes more, I’m like, ‘Shai we gotta go. We gotta take the shoes off.’ ”Landry Shamet, another rookie guard, is so serious about putting in the work, he’s adopted a “Never Cheated” motto that adorns his cell phone’s lock screen, as well as a matching T-shirt line.“The ‘Never Cheated’ mantra of mine, over the past couple years it’s something I feel like I’ve always been one to hold myself accountable and do the right thing, and not cut corners and cheat,” said Shamet, who has joined Gilgeous-Alexander and Beverley, among a handful of others working on their games at the Clippers’ training facility in recent days.“If you control what you can control and do the right thing all the time, you can expect good things to come to you in return.”You can sense Beverley, a free agent whose blazing competitiveness set the tenor for the Clippers’ organization, nodding his approval.Related Articles Or B) someone describing the current culture in the Clippers’ camp?Technically, B. That’s Patrick Beverley speaking at the end of the Clippers’ run this season, when his surprising squad reached the playoffs and pushed the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the opening round.So, sure, the NBA issued a clear knock it off when it fined the Clippers $50,000 and called tampering on Coach Doc Rivers’ for his comments on ESPN comparing Leonard, the Toronto Raptors star and soon-to-be free agent, with Michael Jordan.There are other ways for a team to send a message.With or without Leonard in mind, the Clippers have compiled a no-nonsense collection of workers and competitors, a group that might align nicely with the newly minted Finals MVP whom they reportedly hope to persuade to return to his Southern California roots when free agency begins June 30. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “Not really with all that extra (stuff).“We’re here to get better, we’re here to win games, we’re not here to put on a show …“Come in here, get your work done, (kick butt) and take names.”Is that A) a description of Kawhi Leonard’s approach to basketball?center_img Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 “We got one agenda, and that’s to win a basketball game,” Beverley explained at season’s end. “It’s not to chase stats, it’s not who’s Batman or Robin. We’re here to win basketball games and that was the most important goal this year.“Hopefully,” he added, “we changed the culture of the NBA. It’s OK to be high-maintenance and everything, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. You can be a blue-collar worker and still be successful, and hopefully Shai and (Jerome Robinson) and Landry and (Ivica Zubac), they saw.”Perhaps someone else saw too?“The culture is right,” Rivers said during his exit interview with reporters in April. “We know that we’re not going to have the exact team that we had last year, but we also know that we can change our team and still have the right culture and the same culture.“We’re going to make the right choice, too,” Rivers added. “We’re not just going to spend money. Obviously, there’s a lot of guys out there. If we get the ones we want, we’ll use it. If not, we’ll just keep building away.” Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 5 playoff updates from NBA beat reporters last_img read more

Local teens brave the rain to protest immigration legislation

first_imgWEST WHITTIER – A steady downpour Tuesday did not dampen walkouts by hundreds of local high school students, who took to the streets for a third day of protests over pending anti-immigration legislation. Far fewer students in Whittier and Pico Rivera opted to walk out of classes Tuesday than did on Monday. However, police said one California High School student was arrested on suspicion of vandalism after officers spotted him writing on a street sign. Otherwise, local authorities said, the walkouts, which began at around 8 a.m., ended peacefully at Montebello High School, where many of the students were bused back to Whittier High School at about 1:30 p.m. “We can’t sit by and do nothing,” said Pioneer High sophomore Matthew Gonzales, 15. “We’re showing that we’ll never forget what our ancestors did. If it weren’t for immigrants, these cities wouldn’t be what they are today.” Several hundred local students joined about 6,000 student marchers who walked out of classes throughout the Los Angeles area. The students ignored calls from some Latino leaders, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and school officials to end their protests and return to class. Los Angeles Unified School District officials said 20 to 24 schools in the district were affected. The students have been marching in opposition to a House bill, passed in December, that would crack down on illegal immigration, making it a federal offense to enter the country illegally. The U.S. Senate is debating immigration legislation this week. Tuesday’s protests led to some tense moments outside Carson High School, where about 200 to 300 students rallied and some clashed with sheriff’s deputies. Sgt. Nick Burns of the sheriff’s Compton Station said three juveniles were arrested. In San Pedro, police herded about 150 students off an access road leading to the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Some of the students were cited, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. There also was an unconfirmed report of students burning an American flag. In Montebello, officials sought to clarify Tuesday that no Montebello High School students were involved in an incident Monday in which an American flag was hung upside down, below a Mexican flag. “We’d like to make it clear that at the time that incident happened, Montebello High was in lockdown and our students were inside the school,” said Robert Henke, assistant superintendent of student and community services and spokesman for the Montebello Unified School District. “We don’t want our students to take the blame for that,” he said. Local administrators also took a tougher stand Tuesday to curtail the walkouts, which have cost districts thousands of dollars in per-pupil funding from the state. Districts receive state funding based on students’ average daily attendance. In the Whittier Union High School District, officials said even students who had their parents’ permission to miss school will receive unexcused absences, meaning they will not be able to make up any missed classwork. Students who do not bring absent-excuse notes from parents will be issued truancy citations that will force parents to appear in court and pay a fine of nearly $200, and require youngsters to attend Saturday school, district Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson said. “They have to understand this is not going to be tolerated,” she said. “We’re trying to be understanding and stay neutral on the issue, but students have to stay in school. “We told them that if they’re out of school, they’re only hurting themselves because of the loss of instruction, and they will suffer the consequences of having a truancy,” she added. Pioneer High School Assistant Principal Anuar Shalash echoed that message as he attempted to disperse a crowd of students who were waiting for the 9 a.m. bell to ring so they could walk out of the campus. Undeterred, the group of about 75 students left Pioneer then walked to El Rancho High School, where Principal Julie Ellis announced over the campus’ loudspeaker that the student protesters were on their way. “I want to make this very clear,” she said. “We are having class as usual and if you leave, you will receive a ticket for truancy.” Only a couple of students ignored Ellis’ warning. The crowd of protesters gathered outside Pioneer High appeared upset that more students didn’t show up. The group then moved on to Whittier High School. Many of the protesters hid their faces behind bandanas. When asked why they were covering their faces, several students replied, “No comment.” The group then met up at Whittier High with students who had walked out of California and Whittier high schools, then walked westbound on Whittier Boulevard to Montebello High School. Many of the students were soaked to the skin; they brought no jackets. In spite of the rain, Pioneer High senior Regina Medina, 18, said she felt the walkouts “went better than we’d hoped.” “We’ve decided to come up with another plan and make it bigger,” Medina said. “That way we can get our point across to everybody.” tracy.garcia@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more