The Underground Rockets: Players Visit Clippers Locker Room Following An Altercation on the Court
The Houston Rockets spent their Martin Luther King Jr. Day reenacting the ‘Underground Railroad’ as they took a secret passageway to visit the Clippers locker-room post-game.
It was quite the ending to a very tumultuous and emotional return to the Staples Center for Chris Paul. Tempers began to flare with just over three minutes left in the 4th quarter. Clippers Blake Griffin scored and Paul was called for the foul. In disbelief, Paul went over to inquire with the referees and that’s when Coach Mike D’Antoni and Griffin exchanged choice words, both receiving technical fouls.
Not too long after that, Griffin slammed the ball into Rockets player Eric Gordon’s back, to supposedly maintain possession for his team. Trevor Ariza, Austin Rivers (who had a lot to say as a benched injured Clippers player), and Griffin all exchanged words, resulting in the ejection of Griffin and Ariza. The Clippers defeated the Rockets once again 113-102…but the game was far from over.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, several Rockets players made their way to the Clippers locker room to see about cashing the checks that Rivers’ and Griffin’s mouths wrote. Via Twitter, Wojnarowski wrote, “Houston Rockets’ players James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green pushed into Clippers locker room post-game looking to confront Austin Rivers, league sources tell ESPN.” He went on to say, “Security escorted the Rockets players out before anything turned physical.”
The story was somewhat corroborated by Jonathan Feigen who tweeted, “Chris Paul, James Harden, Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza did go through the back hallway that leads to the Clippers locker room. Got stopped before actually getting in.”
A separate recollection from a local ABC Los Angeles reporter Ashley Brewer states that “LAPD was called into the locker room area. Now hearing Chris Paul stayed out of it, 3 Rockets players were going after Austin Rivers.”
Now maybe the best part of this entire story is that Clint Capela allegedly played an important role in the MLK Day locker room heist. Wojnarowski recounted, “Rockets center Clint Capela walked down the main corridor and banged on the front entrance to the Clippers’ locker room, league sources said. Soon, a Clippers staff member opened the door and looked up to see Capela, a formidable 6’10 figure standing in the doorway. She shut the door in Capela’s face. For a few moments, Capela stood there, unsure how to proceed. Before long, Capela walked back to the Rockets’ locker room, showered and headed for the bus with the rest of the Rockets.”
Capela was a diversion, a Trojan horse, while the rest of the plan was carried out from the secret passageway.
While the only people that actually know what happened are the players (no pun intended) involved. It’s definitely fun to think that this was carefully planned, like something out of Stranger Things.
The Rockets have kicked off Black History Season with the ‘Underground Railroad.’ Who knows what they have in store for the next matchup against the Clippers which will be here in Houston on February 28th.
Moral of the story…if you dare a Texan to pull up…they will. The Rockets aren’t the Warriors guys…so watch your mouth.
The league investigation has concluded that Chris Paul and James Harden were simply trying to diffuse the situation. Though it was fun while it lasted…the secret passageway theory has been debunked.
Rockets players Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green will serve a two-game suspension following the incident. According to ESPN reports, Los Angeles Clippers players Blake Griffin and Austin Rivers were not punished for their roles in the altercation. Considering Rockets members believed that Griffin made contact with Coach D’Antoni following their verbal exchange, the news of Griffin and Rivers being consequence-free has left Rockets members disappointed.