Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Thursday ahead of a meeting between his team and the Clippers that the two teams are not engaged in a "rivalry."
"It's not a rivalry. We don't have bad blood," Warriors coach Mark Jackson insisted after practice Wednesday, doing his best to downplay the rematch. "In this league, when you're competing and teams are getting after it and you're jockeying for playoff position in your same division, it makes it exciting. We embrace it. They embrace it."
Golden State's marketing team is sure trying to capitalize on the game.
On Wednesday, the team's website directed visitors to a preview page with the headline: "Battle for the Pacific." It also touted the game as "the season's final appearance of the division rival Clippers."
That nobody can agree on what to make of this revitalized series only speaks to how quickly it has blossomed even more. The physical play from both sides, though, has really said it all.
This follows the trend of no one in the league ever saying anything is a rivalry, as if you must be the Lakers and Celtics with 40 years of bad blood to dislike each other in a competitive environment.
Teams play in the same division: check.
Teams are both fighting for the division title: check.
Teams have geographic proximity: check.
Teams feature superstar talent: check.
Teams have had at least one altercation escalating into physical contact: check.
Teams are battling for playoff positioning and national prominence as the Western Conference dark horse: check.
There's not a lot of history here, but these are also the two teams where the Clippers refused to let the Warriors pray with them. Your guys can't say a prayer with the other team, but this isn't a rivalry? Get out of here. It's not a great rivalrly, it's not a long-time rivalry, and it needs a playoff series to cement it, but there's enough here.
It's a rivalry.