After backing out on an agreement to sign with the Dallas Mavericks in free agency over the summer, DeAndre Jordan knew when he entered the American Airlines Center he would be public enemy number one.
From the time he came out of the visitors locker room for pregame warmups until the final buzzer, Jordan took the brunt of the anger from the crowd of 19,805 usually posh fans of the Mavericks loudly chanting derogatory phrases at him.
Despite getting booed every time he touched the ball, made a good play or entered and exited the game, the native Texan enjoyed his experience of playing the role of a villain for the night.
“It was fun because they were obviously going to boo and heckle a little bit,” Jordan said while smiling at his postgame press conference. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse, but ultimately we came out here to win a basketball game and that was it.”
Anti-Jordan signs were plentiful at the AAC, including one with a pair of flip-flops taped to it, offered to Jordan as a Christmas present. While another read, “The only thing worse than Jordan’s word is his free throw.”
After slowly stretching out with teammate Blake Griffin, the seven-foot center casually sat down in the front row with some Clippers fans for a minute to suck in the moment while going through the layup line. Jordan got his named called out first and got the obligatory “boo” bird treatment he and everyone associated with the Mavericks and Clippers knew was coming.
Once the ball was tipped, which was easily won by Jordan, it was business as usual.
The Houston native had a pedestrian first half and only mustered five first-half points, but two came in highlight-reel fashion on a spectacular finish off a Blake Griffin alley-oop to dunk on a defenseless Devin Harris.
In the second half, the 34 percent foul shooter missed four of six attempts at the charity stripe, thanks to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle employing the hack-a-DeAndre strategy in the fourth quarter due to him being one of the NBA’s worst free throw shooters.
When the dust settled, Jordan finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and one block while he and his Clippers dropped a 118-108 decision to Dallas. But even in defeat, Doc Rivers was pleased how his big-time center handled the sticky situation.
“I thought he was fine; DJ did what DJ does,” Rivers said. “But clearly when any of that happens you want to win the game and your team wants to do that for you, and we didn’t do that for him and that’s disappointing.”
Luckily for Clippers fans, Jordan had the proper perspective you need to deal with tough situations like this effectively.
“We play these guys four times, so we’ll see them again,” Jordan said. “It’s not something I’m going to go home and cry about.”
The Clippers and Jordan return for the next rowdy chapter of this story on March 7.