The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Toronto Raptors 117-111 yesterday in a really nice win for the Sixers against a good Toronto team. But if you thought that was the story from the game, you were wrong. Because the story wasn’t about Sixers v. Raptors, it was about Ben Simmons v. Kyle Lowry. The two of them got into it with 6.5 seconds left in the game and they were both ejected. Nice story if it ends there, right? But it doesn’t. Because the two players continued to jaw and gesture, seeming like they were each inviting the other to meet me in the tunnel outside the locker room.

For his part, Simmons said, “I’m not going to take no bleep from anybody. I don’t know if they’re trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won’t play around.” Uh, no. That seems apparent. Mr. Simmons won’t play around. And neither will Mr. Lowry, who was asked about the incident and said, “I don’t know. I guess he thinks he’s somebody.”

ROASTED. A killer line from Lowry. Look, the truth is, Ben Simmons is somebody. And Kyle Lowry is somebody, too. And neither guy is going to allow himself to get punked by somebody else. Simmons denied that they met up outside the locker rooms, but that was still just a quality mid-January feud… I like it!

And if that was the only NBA action of the day, it would’ve been a very good day. But it wasn’t the only action. In fact, that was the appetizer for what was about to come after the Rockets-Clippers game in LA. I’m going to need you to settle in for this one, and in the words of legendary Giants closer Brian Wilson, let’s get weird. And as is often the case, weird is good… In this case, it’s great.

The Clippers beat the Rockets 113-102 in Chris Paul’s return against  his old team. Let’s just say the Clippers were not happy to see him, and he was not happy to see them. Let’s just say, both sides seem like they hate each other. And if not both sides, then at least, Blake Griffin and CP3. Griffin went off with 29,10, and 6, and things got especially chippy when he scored on Paul down low in the fourth quarter and CP3 was called for a foul. Paul reportedly didn’t think it was an and-1 situation, Blake did, and Mike D’Antoni started jawing with Blake. The two made contact and received double technicals.

At one point, MDA dropped an F-bomb on Blake. A coach F-bombing a star player is some nice action. You don’t see that very often… then again, you don’t see a star player make contact with an opposing as MDA alleges, very often either. And if that’s where it ended, that would’ve been some strong mid-January heat. I would have taken that all day long. As my 12-year old would have said, a couple of years ago, THAT’S LIT!!. But that wasn’t all, in fact, it was just beginning.

Trevor Ariza started talking to Austin Rivers, who was out with an ankle injury… in fact, Rivers may have been the guy the Rockets were most pissed at, which is pretty rich considering he was in streets and didn’t play a single second. Then Ariza and Griffin started talking. Then Griffin was ejected. Ariza was ejected. And eventually the game ended. Again, a glorious January evening if it ends right there. But it didn’t.

As if a star player and an opposing coach getting into it and another player jawing with an injured player wasn’t enough, things took a bizarre and beautiful  turn. Let me read the first two sentences of Woj’s piece, because summarizing it won’t do it justice:

In the aftermath of a cantankerous loss to the LA Clippers, Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza and stars Chris Paul and James Harden marched through a back corridor and into the Clippers’ locker room late Monday night, suggesting that they wanted to confront Clippers players Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin, league sources told ESPN.

Rockets guard Gerald Green joined Ariza, Paul and Harden through the connecting hallway and breached the entrance of the home team’s locker room.

So four Rockets go barreling over to the Clippers locker room looking for Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin? Freaking Fantastic.

But it gets better. Because according to reports, Rockets big man Clint Capela went and knocked on the front door of the Clippers locker room, while Paul led a crew through a back passageway. According to Woj, witnesses described Ariza “as the first one through the door, with Paul lingering in the back.” 

What?! Paul’s like, dudes! Follow me!! I know a secret entry!!! I got this! Follow me!!!  Of course, he showed them how to get there, but wasn’t the first one through the door.

Again, are you telling me that there are secret passageways in Staples? I would pay big money for the security camera footage of those hallways as that battalion of Rockets attempted to outflank the Clippers and then get them in a pincer movement.

And that the Rockets were using Capela, the 6’10 guy, as a distraction at the front door? Classic military strategy.

So, let’s recap all the awesomeness in that report,?

– Gerald Green, who’s been a Rocket for less than three weeks, was ready to go

– James Harden, who’s been out since New Year’s Eve, was in on it

– The Rockets were looking to get at Blake Griffin, who played, and Austin Rivers, who was injured

– And how classic is it that they sent Capela, who’s Swiss, to knock on the front door? Like, he’s from Switzerland, he’s neutral, the Clippers will listen to him, and then while they’re distracted, we’ll bust through the back door.

– How was that going to work? Was Clint going to ask them confusing questions while the rest of the team came through the back door and grabbed whoever they wanted. “Guys, it’s me, Clint Capela. How do they make glass? No, wait, if a car leaves Detroit traveling at 60 miles per hour and a train leaves Dallas going 45 miles per hour, where will they meet?”

Instead, the staffer who answered the door and saw Capela, just shut it in his face.

And what exactly were the Rockets planning on doing if they got into the locker room? Beat Griffin and Rivers down. Doubtful. Because a source told Woj, “It was classic NBA. None of these guys were going to fight.”

That’s a lot of work and a lot of effort just to jaw. And I, for one, love it. Don’t ever change, Clippers and Rockets. Don’t ever change. In fact, now that everyone knows about the mythical secret passages, let’s run this game right back again tonight.


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