It's better late than never.
Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights may be one of the newest members of the team, but after a three-year stint with the World Champion Golden State Warriors, he is the only player on the squad with a ring won in the last five years.
Speights, affectionately known as "Mo Buckets," therefore has a right to speak his mind when he wants, and he did just that to NBC LA on Wednesday night after his former team, defeated his current team, 115-98 at home.
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"I've been trying to tell everyone. We have to share the ball. Tonight they see it. They see everything I say in practice. They see how they play," said Speights of the Warriors. "If we want to play like that, we can, but that's a championship caliber team over there, but if they don't see how they play, I don't know what the problem is."
Speights frustration was evident on his face as he spoke to just a select few reporters, including yours truly. It's important to note that despite the national reporting of Speight's critical comments on Thursday, that 6-foot-10-inch big man was not singling anybody out specifically, nor did he intentionally seem to be putting down the team. It was just an honest assessment of a nine-year veteran whose played for both sides.
If Speights has been telling his new teammates in practice for the last few months what they need to do in order to take that next step and compete for an NBA Championship, it's possible that his words are going in one ear and out the other. Hence the reason he specifically mentioned that the Clippers have now seen the way the Warriors play up close for the first time this season, and it only reinforces what he's been saying since early October.
"We need to lock in more, because sometimes we just go out there and play the game," he said candidly. "We've been losing a lot lately like that."
When asked what specifically the Clippers need to do in order to become a Championship caliber team, Speights did not hesitate to point out that some of his teammates focus too much on the officiating, or their own statistics, then they do their opponent.
"First, we need to leave the refs alone," he said. "Guys need to sacrifice. Do some other things than just scoring. Put aside your personal goals. Just try something new. They've been doing it here for four or five years and now it's time to try something new."
Speights has a point. Since Doc Rivers became the coach of the Clippers in 2013, they have lead the league in technical fouls each and every year. Consistently, they are an exciting and elite level team during the regular season, but those attributes have not translated into the postseason where L.A. has failed to make it past the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
On Wednesday, in the lopsided loss to the Warriors, those perennial faults that have hampered the Clippers in the postseason shined brightly as Rivers, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul each received technical fouls in the game, and multiple players, including Speights himself, said the team "lost their spirit," during a 12-0 first quarter run by Golden State.
"That's the scouting report when you play against the Clippers," continued Speights. "It's always been, especially when I was with the Warriors. You hit them a couple of times and their spirit is going to be down, that's what happened. We have to try a way to get over that hump."
After hearing Speights comments, some of his teammates like Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick agreed, but when I asked Griffin about it after the game, he simply blew it off.
"I mean you could say that about any team. The scouting report for us when we go against an opponent is to break their spirit," Griffin said discounting Speights' comments. "That's like saying the scouting report is to score more points than the other team."
Rivers also had heard about Speights comments on the practice court on Thursday and told the scrum of media reporters surrounding him that he disagreed with two of his assessments of the team.
"The officiating thing, I don't think, is our issue. I will say that," said Rivers about the technical fouls. "If that were the problem, then, Golden State would be struggling. They've been No. 2 the last two years in techs, too. I think we need to point fingers in another direction than that."
The second thing Rivers disagreed with was Speights assumption that his teammates need to be less selfish.
"That's the other thing I didn't like," continued Rivers. "I don't think we have an agenda team. I think we've proven that."
Speights also walked back his comments a bit at practice stating that he "probably should have phrased it better," and noting, like I already mentioned earlier, "he did not mean to call nobody out."
Speights may have changed his tune a bit 24 hours after the loss, but that doesn't mean he wasn't right. It's time to try something new if you're the Clippers.