There are few guys in the NBA who raise the hackles of players and pundits more than Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley.
Over his nine-year career, Beverley has been known primarily for two things: aggressive on-ball defense and a knack for annoying the living daylights out of opposing players — the former often leading to the latter. With elite trash-talking in his repertoire and a manic battery that parties all game long, Beverley’s been named All-Defensive three times (2014, 2017 and 2020) and is often praised by current and former players as being one of the toughest matchups in the league.
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Last April, Hall of Famer and defensive icon Gary Payton said Beverley and Boston’s Marcus Smart were the two active players who most resembled his style, that they are both “dogs on the defensive end.”
And last week on the podcast “Dubs Talk,” Golden State’s Steph Curry, widely considered one of the greatest scorers in league history, (eventually) mentioned Beverley when asked who gives him the most trouble defensively.
Jrue Holiday, Avery Bradley, Tony Allen when he was in the league. There are guys that have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, being physical, studying your game, and knowing your moves.
Never in my mind are you scared that they’re going to stop you. But at the same time, you gotta go harder that particular night or play a little smarter. Maybe like Pat Bev and the antics, you’ve gotta deal with that. But I think those guys exist and they get paid to defend the best guys in the league.
On its face, Curry’s answer seemed to indicate that Beverley made the cut. But his use of the phrase “and the antics” opened the door for argument, particularly between two guys whose job it is to do just that: Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless.
‘It’s About Shenanigans’
Facing off on their Fox Sport 1 show “Undisputed,” Sharpe and Bayless interpreted Curry’s words differently (as they are paid handsomely to do). Sharpe, a former All-Pro tight end in the NFL and someone who has feuded with Beverley in the past, felt Curry was making an important distinction between Beverley and the other guys named.
“It was a caveat—–a caveat,” insisted Sharpe, rendering Bayless uncharacteristically at a loss for word. “The other guys, he didn’t mention anything about antics. He put him in a separate category. He didn’t mention nothing about antics with Avery Bradley or Tony Allen or Jrue Holiday.
“The other guy is all about antics, all about shenanigans,” continued Sharpe. “It ain’t about defense, it’s about shenanigans. Because there are a lot of guys, defensive guys, I played against them. They always doing something they had no business [doing]. It wasn’t about their ability, it’s the other things you had to worry about.”
Bayless, however, believing Curry meant the antics were an added problem, not the only one, took Curry’s words as something akin to anointment:
Steph Curry just blessed Patrick Beverley. He included him in his top four defenders and he mentioned the antics because his point was, it’s part and parcel of who Patrick is. You have to get through the antics to re-focus on your goal, which is that basket and putting this basketball through that basket. And it’s hard because [Beverley] will get up in you and he will get up in your psyche at the same time. And you have to deal with both your psyche and the ability to shoot through him, because it’s hard.
Bayless also pointed to how much the Clippers are missing Beverley right now as further proof of his interpretation. Beverley has been out of the lineup since April 8 when he broke his hand against Phoenix——an especially untimely injury given that he has already missed 21 games this season with soreness in his right foot.
“Ask any of those Clippers,” said Bayless. “They say almost on a nightly basis how much they miss Pat Bev. He is still the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Clippers.”
History With Westbrook
Attempting to bolster his own view, Sharpe brought up current Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook, reminding Bayless that he had “said the exact same thing” about Beverley and his antics. While it’s certainly true that Westbrook, who was playing for the Houston Rockets at the time, said something about Beverley’s tomfoolery on the court, unlike Curry, he left little up for interpretation.
“Pat Bev trick y’all, man, like he playing defense,” Westbrook told reporters in November of 2019 following a Houston victory over the Clippers in which then-Rocket James Harden scored 47, mostly with Beverley checking him. “He don’t guard nobody, man. It’s just running around, doing nothing. You seen what happened […] all that commotion to get 47.”
Russ on Pat Bev’s defense: “[He] trick y’all man…He just running around, doing nothing.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 14, 2019
Of course Westbrook may have still been harboring resentment from the first round of the 2013 playoffs when his Oklahoma City Thunder team squared off against Beverley’s Rockets. In the second quarter of Game 2, Beverley lunged for the ball as Westbrook was clearly trying to call timeout, causing the Thunder guard to crash to the floor. Westbrook finished out the game but afterward was diagnosed with a torn meniscus which forced him to miss the remainder of the playoffs and receive surgery in the offseason.
Whatever Curry may or may not have meant, there’s no disputing that Beverley, when healthy, is a defensive force in this league. And you better believe that Beverley will be the last dude (ok, maybe not the last dude) to care if he makes it into Curry’s most-dreaded upper echelon because it goes beyond that with them.
“Steph is like a brother,” Beverley said in January of 2020. “Freshman year of college, roommates. USA team, roommates. Sophomore year of college, Paul Pierce camp, roommates. Lebron James camp, roommates — these are things people don’t know, but we been knowing each other since we were pups.”
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