Everyone in Los Angeles was pushing for a Lakers-Clippers rivalry that never materialized following the Chris Paul trade in December 2011. Instead, in a reversal of fortune, the Clippers surged and the Lakers slid, making the Staples Center "Hallway Series" a one-sided affair.
Many around the league figured Grizzlies-Clippers would blossom into the next heated rivalry after they split back-to-back grueling playoff series in 2012 and '13, but grit and grind doesn't always translate into hate and loathing.
No, in the end, it was the Clippers and Warriors who simply couldn't help but hate each other every time they stepped onto the same court. It's a rivalry, like so many others, born from resentment, jealousy and oftentimes simple misunderstanding.
It's a rivalry that doesn't figure to end anytime soon, and the next chapter will be written at Staples Center on Thursday night when the Clippers try to spoil the Warriors' perfect 12-0 start to the season. But before the game, here's a countdown of the top 10 signature moments and quotes that have made this the best rivalry in the NBA.
10. "You would have thought they won the NBA Finals."
Heading into the 2012-13 season, the Clippers were the trendy pick to come out of the West after advancing to the second round in their first season with their core group of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors meanwhile were an afterthought after going 23-43 and missing the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
That would all change Nov. 3, 2012, the third game season, but it wasn't Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green or Harrison Barnes who would make the first big mark on this rivalry. It was Kent Bazemore. His over-the-top celebrations birthed the nickname "Bazemoring" and also helped birth the Clippers-Warriors rivalry three years ago. Bazemore and the Warriors' bench celebrated every big play and went crazy when Curry took a charge from Paul to seal the win at Staples Center with 7.5 seconds left.
"You would have thought they won the NBA Finals," Paul would later say. During the game, David Lee also got tangled with Griffin under the basket and the two had to be separated, leading Lee to scream at Griffin, "Stop flopping!" It wouldn't be the last time a Warriors player yelled that at Griffin.
9. "Leave that s--- on the court."
After the Clippers beat Warriors on March 12, 2014, to split the four-game season series, Golden State big man Jermaine O'Neal wasn't ready to go home. It had already been a typically intense game between the teams, with Green wrestling Griffin to the ground and O'Neal and Jordan picking up technical fouls. But O'Neal had more to say to Griffin after nearly being ejected for continually jawing at Griffin and the Clippers' bench.
After the game, O'Neal approached Griffin outside the Clippers' locker room. They got into a heated conversation that was quickly broken up by a Clippers official, who led Griffin to the adjacent news conference room. Before walking into the room, Griffin could be heard telling O'Neal, "Leave that s--- on the court."
8. "God don't like ugly."
Less two months after confronting Griffin outside the Clippers' locker room, O'Neal was injured in the Game 6 of the teams' first-round playoff matchup when he collided with Glen "Big Baby" Davis. O'Neal was diagnosed with a sprained right knee and was lost for the rest of Game 6 and all but three minutes of Game 7. O'Neal thought it was a dirty play after viewing the replay.
"Either he has terrible balance as a pro athlete, or that was a dirty play," O'Neal told reporters after the game. "His head was down. Even if you're diving for something, you've got to see what you're diving for. But, you know, God don't like ugly."
7. "He's a great actor. I've seen those Kia commercials."
The Warriors' annoyance at Griffin's theatrics blossomed two months into the 2012-13 season. In the third quarter on Jan. 2, 2013, Griffin got tangled up with Festus Ezeli in midair on a play in which Ezeli was given a flagrant foul 1. A few minutes later, with the Clippers down 12 points, Griffin attempted a corner 3-pointer that hit the side of the basket, leading Bazemore and the Warriors bench to laugh and celebrate as if they were courtside at the slam-dunk contest. To pour salt in Griffin's wound, when Warriors coach Mark Jackson was asked about Griffin after the game he said, "He's a great actor. I've seen those Kia commercials."
6. "That's cowardly basketball."
Not even playing on Christmas Day in 2013 could get these two teams to put their differences aside. Green was ejected for throwing an elbow at Griffin, who got a technical after he had to be held back by his teammates at the end of the third quarter while jawing with Green. Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Griffin was ejected after getting tangled up with Andrew Bogut in the paint and trying to get free. Bogut was given a flagrant foul and was involved in a brief altercation with Paul after the Warriors won the game 105-103.
"If you look at it, I didn't do anything, and I got thrown out of the game," Griffin said afterward. "It all boils down to they [the referees] fell for it. To me, that's cowardly. That's cowardly basketball."
5. "I apologize. It was water."
Even the fans aren't safe in the Clippers-Warriors rivalry. When Griffin fouled out of Game 1 of the Clippers' first-round series against the Warriors in 2014, he looked up at the scoreboard, raised his arms in disbelief and while doing so poured a cup of water on a heckling Warriors fan standing behind him. Griffin said it was an accident, but the replay seemed to indicate he knew where the water was going.
"I didn't know what I did, but it wasn't full," Griffin would say. "I apologize. It was water."
4. "A good, old-fashioned heavyweight championship stare-down."
The teams played back-to-back games in January 2013, with each winning at home. The Clippers made sure to celebrate their win Jan. 5 as loudly as they felt the Warriors had done in previous matchups. During one stretch in the third quarter, Paul hit Jordan for three straight lob dunks, prompting Jackson to call a timeout in which he spent almost the entire time glaring at the celebrating Clippers bench.
"It was just a good old-fashioned heavyweight championship stare-down. That's all," Jackson said. "But they earned the right to celebrate, the way they played. So what you've got to do as a coach or as a player is just let it soak in and remember it. That's all. Mark it down with permanent ink."
3. "Both teams don't care much for each other."
The line in the sand for this rivalry was drawn more deeply on Halloween night 2014 when the Clippers scheduled their own pregame chapel service before their home opener, surprising the Warriors. It's customary for NBA teams to have chapel together, but the Clippers wanted nothing to do with the Warriors.
Once the game started, Griffin and Jackson got into it after Griffin bumped into the Golden State coach while taking the ball out of bounds. "He was taking it out and he bumped me twice," Jackson said. "I wasn't going to let it happen a third time."
Griffin laughed it off, saying, "Before the game coach said we have to find a body and box out, and I just mistook him. It was my fault. It was nothing, really. He thought it was more than I thought it was."
Later in the game Jordan and Bogut got into a shoving match and had to be separated after receiving double technical fouls, and Paul stared down Thompson on multiple occasions after plays. "We played there last year and they were dancing and all that stuff," Paul said afterward. "Both teams don't care for each other much. It is what it is."
2. "Cool story, Glenn."
After the Warriors beat the Clippers on March 8, 2015, Clippers reserve swingman Dahntay Jones bumped Green while he was doing a postgame interview, prompting Green to do a double-take and glare at Jones, who was fined $10,000 for the incident. It ignited a war of words between Green and Rivers, which was far more entertaining than the bump itself.
"Wow, that was such a violent bump," Rivers said sarcastically afterward. "It was amazing. I told Dahntay, 'You have to be careful; that was too hard.' I guess that tough guy in Golden State -- I think that bump was too hard for him, clearly the way he reacted, my goodness. I thought that guy was tough."
When Green was played the comments during a radio interview, he invoked Rivers' given name: "Cool story, Glenn. I'm done with that situation, man. ... I don't have no reason to worry about what Glenn has to say."
Rivers laughed when he heard Green's comments. "Clearly they're thinking about us more than we know. It makes me happy that I could get someone mad. That probably made my day. When my mom was mad at me and Pat Riley was mad at me they called me Glenn. So I guess now Draymond is in that category."
Green briefly sold, "Cool story, Glenn" shirts on his website before removing them.
1. "I'm pretty sure we smacked them."
Rivers once again got under the skin of the Warriors this offseason when he was talking about championship teams needing luck. "You need luck in the West," Rivers told Zach Lowe. "Look at Golden State. They didn't have to play us or the Spurs."
The Warriors took the comments as a shot at them, which Rivers later said was not the case. "That sounds pretty bitter to me," Thompson said. "If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year. I'm pretty sure we smacked them."
Thompson continued his rant by pointing out the Clippers' failure to make it out of the second round. "Didn't they lose to the Rockets? So that just makes me laugh," he said. "That's funny. Weren't they up 3-1, too? Tell them I said that, too. ... I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn't handle their business."