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Doc Rivers: No more technical fouls, and Clippers must follow my lead

Doc Rivers

Los angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reacts to a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


The Clippers’ whining and complaining and arguing with referees is so entrenched in their culture, it’s literally a family activity.

Through Wednesday, the Clippers ranked second in the NBA with 24 technical fouls this season. (The Suns led the league with 29.)

Clippers coach Doc Rivers vowed to change that mindset.

Rivers, via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
“I told them, ‘That doesn’t represent us,’ ” said Rivers, who has six technicals, second-most of the coaches in the league, and three ejections. “I have to be the leader of this team, so my actions have to come first. … We’re reversing this. I’m getting no more, and I’m holding everyone accountable.”

“There are other teams that complain as much as us, and there are times as a coach when I have to do my job,” said Rivers, who was fined $15,000 for verbally abusing a referee and not leaving the court in a timely manner after he was ejected from a Dec. 1 game against Brooklyn.

“I’m not gonna change. I’m gonna be feisty and fight for my team every night. But I also want us to be better. I started well [Wednesday]. No techs.”

I appreciate Rivers pointing the finger at himself first, but it doesn’t bode well that he can’t even declare his intention to stop getting technical fouls without also saying he won’t change and pointing out other teams complain just as much. He just can’t help being petty – and neither can Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan.

There are pros to this approach. Rivers sets a tone of competitiveness, and his players know he has their back. There’s also a culture of perfectionism the Clippers demand not just from officials, but from themselves.

But the Clippers have long gone too far with their referee interactions. Their complaining becomes distracting, and the technicals cost them valuable points.

Good for Rivers if he gets the team to change, but I’m skeptical.

At least one player says he’s on board, though.

Austin Rivers, via DiGiovanna:

“For the rest of the year, I’m not getting any more [technicals],” Austin Rivers said. “I’ve never been a guy to get a lot of technicals. I guess it’s just emotion. We’re competitive. We just have to channel it in a better way.”