Never Bored Again is a new column from our officially unofficial NBA correspondent Abe Beame. He’s been writing about the league for our site for a long-ass time, but ahead of the impending season, we’ve decided to turn his fandom (and occasionally, his lunacy) into a sanctioned thing.
Folks, I’ll level with you. Over several decades of life, I’ve collected some people I really just do not like. I have reasonable, rational reasons for feeling this way. In some cases, disrespect, maybe betrayal, maybe they just rub me the wrong way. It’s an ugly emotion. It’s an empty sentiment. I’d really like to say I’ve worked towards beating it, or being bigger than it, but I honestly haven’t, and probably never will. There are some dark parts of me that will always be resentful and begrudged. And I don’t listen to Norwegian black metal, and I don’t particularly like the early Gaspar Noe films, but when I want to embrace the dark, anti-human sentiment at the core of this impulsive negativity, I find refuge in the irate, joyless basketball practiced by 6 foot, 170 pound Clippers sociopath Patrick Beverly and his politics of resentment.
I understand why this may be an automatic turnoff for some. We like to think of basketball in these utopian terms. At its peak, it’s a game of compassion, of collaboration, it’s the height of physical and emotional bonding, an intimate understanding of our fellow man, where he or she likes to shoot on the floor, and where they like to receive their pass in rhythm. But for me, Pat Bev channels something else. He’s a pass first point guard, so by nature, he buys into this selfless spirit of the game. But when the French writer/philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said “Hell is other people,” he was referring specifically to Pat Bev. He is a Petty King. Pat is proof that even without the privilege of being faster, or stronger, or larger, or more skilled, or smarter than your opponent, if you have enough hatred in your heart, you can accomplish anything.
Pat Bev does not play basketball “like jazz.” Pat Bev has had the exact same career as Micheal Jordan in every way if you just isolate Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Speech and literally no other aspect of his entire career. He could run an entire marathon laterally faster than you or I could run it straight up, so long as he was staying in front of Steph Curry dribbling a basketball the entire time. There’s a tiny, sociopathic, black and white cartoon mouse whistling as he shovels an endless supply of perceived slights into the coal burning steam engine of his toxic brain. He’s from the West Side of Chicago. He went to the University of Arkansas. He was drafted out of college but never played a game. Then he spent three and a half years playing basketball for Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece, and Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia. You can feel it in his game. He plays like a guy who never wants to go to Russia again. Here is some footage I found on Youtube of Pat Bev playing overseas:
Sometimes I think Pat Bev is the protagonist in a Saul Bellow novel we’re all living in. He is the closest thing we’ve ever had to a Jewish basketball player, including actual Jews Jordan Farmar, Omri Casspi, and Sue Bird. If you translate Patrick Beverly into Hebrew it comes out as Maror, or bitter herb, his personality related perfectly on the seder plate. No one else has ever so clearly played with the collective weight of 5,000 years of wandering oppression on their wiry traps, with the dread, the backed into a corner certainty that this can, and will all be taken away by a senseless and chaotic universe, with the aggrieved irritation of having never been served a bowl of soup at the correct temperature.
Pat got his big break with the Houston Rockets in 2013. In 2015, despite the fact that he is nowhere near the most skilled player in the NBA, he came from behind to shock the field and win the Skills Contest over All Star weekend, almost certainly because an usher had mentioned he thought it was a long shot. In 2017, Pat Bev was traded from Houston to the Clippers with many other players in what can only be described as the worst trade ever in NBA history. For absolutely no reason, and with no context, here’s a clip of Pat Bev espousing his general philosophy when it comes to his approach to basketball and life:
To know Pat Bev, and to love him, is to watch him defend. Pat plays performative defense. He defends like no one is watching. He doesn’t QB the Clippers defense like a Draymond or a Tuck or a Duncan, and of course he doesn’t, he’s the acid dipped tip of the Clippers’ spear. He haunts passing lanes, swinging his arms around wildly hoping to get a piece of a ball floating overhead. He’s a swarming, overzealous maniac on closeouts. He’s an irritant. He gets compared to pests, a mosquito or gnat most frequently. This is because he loves the defensive assignments every other player in the league hates. Pat guards “up”. He goes under, getting inside, ruining lives. He relishes it. The more size and strength he’s giving up to his man, the harder he plays. He’s more like pink eye, or syphilis, or the novel coronavirus, or Kyle Lowry.
This serves a purpose for the at times passive Clippers. it’s impossible not to give a shit with Pat Bev on the court with you. He’s like the guy sitting next to you at work that you hate who gives too many fucks and makes you feel like now you have to give a fuck. Suddenly, it’s a Tuesday night in February in Sacramento in the third quarter of a game Kawhi is sitting out with the Clippers up 12, and you find yourself thinking, “Jesus fucking Christ, fine Pat Bev, I’ll go over the fucking screen.” In other words, Pat Bev slaps the court before he locks in on his assignment at three quarters court, and several days later a hurricane decimates a small island in the South Pacific.
He’s following in a long, proud lineage of dirty, despicable, devastatingly effective perimeter defenders like Bruce Bowen and Tony Allen. He’s a butcher. And by that, I don’t mean that he hacks opposing players on defense, I mean he led a crew of blood and soil New York Street toughs called The Bowery Boys in the 19th century. If he’s not on the team you root for, and even if you’re some of the people who play on his team with him, you probably hate him. I don’t, but only because he’s so firmly entrenched in a legacy of the Riley Knicks perimeter guards who would happily kidney punch you sooner then help you up after cutting under your legs on a breakaway layup attempt.
For certain guys, there are little rituals. Watch after the ref blows a whistle, and every once in a while, the ball handler will put up a shot with their dead ball. Some guys will jump up and goaltend, swatting it away, not giving the shooter the satisfaction of seeing if his shot was on, taking some of the advantage away from getting up a practice shot on the margins. They will intercept the basketball from the ref on a free throw attempt. Rub the ball, dribble it hard, do anything to impact the rhythm of the shooter. With a game out of reach as the clock wanes in the final seconds, a player on either side of the score might decide to take a few dribbles and put up an innocuous layup, and there are some disturbed individuals who refuse to acknowledge this is in the context of garbage time. They treat it like the last possession, Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Pat Bev has taken all these minor, nearly imperceptible aggravations and elevated them to a religion of discomfort. They’re as important as his 3 point percentage, or the laser point passes he whips at his teammates as if the ball spit in his mouth.
Pat Bev has destroyed the idea that basketball is a game that is played while the game clock is running. He lives in the margins. He pinches, he punches, he steps on sneakers, tugs on jerseys, makes off color remarks, he basically acts exactly like my six year old son when he thinks his teacher isn’t watching. He’s an all time, world class shit talker. On the court, in post game interviews, Pat finds the notion that you should tread lightly because you could provide an opponent with motivational white board material patently absurd. He views it as the entire point of addressing journalists.
The best part of Casino is when Joe Pesci’s Nicky Santoro explains what is at the heart of gangsterism. You or I, relatively normal people, believe in a system of actions and consequences. We have impulses, but we constrain them because if we did the things we really want to do, we’d have things at stake we don’t want to lose, punishments we don’t want to have to face. Pat Bev would throw his entire life away if it meant he got to bury a final elbow under CJ Mcollums’s ribs. Nothing matters more to him than winning every exchange on a granular level, and this is his true superpower.
Some people complain this league has lost its edge. That the players all get along now and we’ve lost the stakes, the blood feuds. Pat Bev has a blood feud with his district alderman, with executive director of the NBA Players Association, Michele Roberts, with his mother, who worked three jobs raising him by herself.
For the rest of his life, second string Golden State Warriors point guard Brad Wannamaker will have Pat Bev rooting against him and doing everything he can to sabotage his career at every turn. When he retires, Pat Bev will go to every extreme to prevent Wannamaker from living out a calm and peaceful existence. He’ll actively try to destroy Wannamaker’s future business ventures. He’ll hack into his E*Trade account and short sell all his investments. He’ll spread ominous rumors about the non-profit charity Wannamaker sets up in his hometown. He’ll forge damning letters and send them to the private schools and colleges Wannamaker’s kids, and nieces and nephews attempt to attend. When Wannamaker dies, Pat Bev will set a plywood board over Brad Wannamaker’s plot, buy a pair of professional grade tap shoes, and with no experience, expertly tap on the plot for two and a half hours before urinating all over the head stone and setting the plywood on fire, before heading to Kyle O’Quinn’s grave to perform the same perverse ritual. All because anyone had the audacity to compete against him in professional, impersonal circumstances in an attempt to make a career and feed their families.
There is little to no beauty in his game. Pat Bev crosses over with the verve and panache of a plumber switching to his dominant hand because he can’t budge a lug nut. When he gets to the rack, it’s usually a labor of intensity, dropping his head and stumbling down hill, barreling into the vicinity of the hoop on his man’s hip with little to no separation, then desperately flipping up a miraculous finish. There are Youtube compilations online of his season highlights over the years, and on offense, they’re all just regular plays. He’s the incredibly rare mostly off ball point guard, waiting in a corner as Kawhi powers his way to a comfortable spot on the court. And yet, there’s an animating spirit that possesses pat Bev when he’s locked in on D, or that is to say, always. In his sheer determination to stay in front of and frustrate the fastest, most elusive, most skilled human beings on Earth, he transforms into a kind of shadow dancer. He feints, he stunts, he anticipates where you’re going before you realize you wanted to go there. He looks like a zoologist training a genetically enhanced velociraptor. Here’s a clip of Pat absolutely hounding Jamal Murray in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
Pat Bev will never be a great offensive threat, but he’s made himself into a playable floor spacing shooter. His specialty is being in that perfect spot late in the game when the crucial possession breaks down and all is lost, conjuring the tipped offensive rebound or loose ball that emerges from a scrum to fall directly into his waiting hands, raising up in that robotic form that looks like something beaten into his muscles through thousands of hours of repetition, and hitting the back breaking shot with a malicious glint in his eye before emitting a primal scream that contains all the ancient rage in his bones. He’s the opposite of tinkerbell in a Peter Pan stage play. The second you stop clapping and believing in him, he comes alives.
I like to think about the de rigueur it took for Pat Bev to achieve that shot, to become a reliably high 30s shooter. I like to imagine Pat waking up unnecessarily early, going to some local park in Chicago during an all star weekend he wasn’t invited to, shoveling the entire snow covered court including the half he has no intention of using, and shooting thousands of shots on a double rim with no net, berating the middle of hoop on every miss for not being where his shot went, wearing a backless hairshirt and lashing himself with a cat o 9 tails he custom engineered to extract maximum damage, dutifully chasing down his own rebound and resetting with the single, slightly flat ball he brought out with him.
This current iteration of the Clippers has more or less defanged Pat Bev. More often than not, the shot creators bring the ball up. He’s playing with two of the most physically talented perimeter defenders of his generation. It’s a far cry from the band of rag tag outcast misfits Pat dragged into the playoffs two years ago, setting the stage for their huge acquisitions. But perhaps this is appropriate. All pretense of Pat Bev, contributing NBA player, has been stripped away, and we’re left with gorgeous intangibles, his true value in this league. With his load considerably lightened, and his minutes limited, there is little for Pat Bev to do except Pat Bev all over the fucking place, on and off the court, diving for loose balls, getting techs, hyping up the digital fans in empty gyms, snatching hearts and minds with absurd rhetoric in locker rooms, in a bucket hat, inventing novel ways to annoy everyone on earth but me.
With their ignominious exit from last season’s playoffs, the defection of Pat’s soulmate Montrezl Harrell, and the entire West seeming to gain strength as the Clippers seem diminished, they have become something of a depreciated asset. But that is the danger of recency bias. We forget how strong and formidable, how complete the team looked and felt only three months ago, when they led the Denver Nuggets 3-1 en route to an inevitable heavyweight tilt with the eventual champs in the Western Conference Finals. If they’re going to have any chance of maintaining the fire, the passion, the animus against their peers and the world around them it takes to get to the pinnacle of the league, the Clippers will need the persistent, profanity laden murmur of Pat Bev in their collective ear. At least for now, we can confirm they’ll have it.
And so, I still believe it is entirely conceivable this season, Pat Bev will attain basketball’s holy grail. He will be one of a very select group of human beings who have ever won a Larry O’Brien Trophy. For most of his teammates, this will be a moment of joy, a day to let loose and, for perhaps this one, brief moment, release. Enjoy reaching the pinnacle of their profession. Let the work go, drink champagne, relieve the sizable chips off their shoulders that even the normal, well adjusted, emotionally healthy professional athletes need to motivate them to get up every morning and perform the gargantuan tasks required of them. But if I had to guess, our final image of Pat Bev, 2021 NBA champion, will look something like this: