We get that the league is a multi-millionaires club now. It's a tight group. Everybody who plays NBA basketball wins. Maybe not the games, but in life, making generational money, capitalizing on the benefits of a ridiculously strong basketball economy.
But the nasty, raw-boned competition, that's the beautiful thing.
When Rudy Gobert inadvertently elbowed JJ Redick in a tight second half, and Redick protested back, that's exactly what Redick should have done. He should have gotten mad. And then Gobert should have gotten mad at Redick for getting mad.
The Clips and Jazz are battling for home-court advantage in the playoffs, sending messages back and forth in a first-round matchup that's bound to happen, that now has to happen. Please, basketball gods, let it, make it happen.
The Clippers are the old guys who have been in the playoffs for a while now, frustrated by their inability to go as deep as they've been expected to go. The Jazz are the upstarts who will make the postseason for the first time in a fistful of years. The way they see it, this is their time, not anybody else's.
It's been a long spell since the Jazz have shown this kind of fire. They were viewed as everyone's nice guys in recent seasons. In a Sports Illustrated ranking, in 2015, they topped the Schadenfreude ratings as the least-hated team in the NBA, "with no rough edges to irritate." That ranking said the Jazz had "no dominant style about which to turn up your nose, no offensive personalities at whom to seethe."
What an insult.
Everybody loves the guys they can beat.
And now … not anymore.
Led by Gobert, the Jazz are on their way to becoming fearless.
Just ask Chris Paul, who shoved Gobert twice at the end of the game and complained later Monday night about Gobert talking a lot.
That's rich, the Clippers complaining about the Jazz talking. The Clippers may be the biggest bunch of whiners anywhere in the league. And that's OK, too.
Two teams, from opposite ends of the spectrum, talking at each other, getting mad, pushing and shoving and elbowing, all with playoff spots at stake, all with a hopeful collision coming in the first round. The Clippers with their current composition at stake, the Jazz with big plans and big dreams for the future, starting right now.
Monday night's game was a whole lot of fun because the players cared, played hard, played mean, popped off on one another, drawing technicals, getting the crowd even more riled up than it was to begin with.
It was what would have been expected from the Clippers, what may have been unexpected from the team with no rough edges to irritate.
The Clippers crushed the Jazz in their first two meetings, and the Jazz crushed back in this third game. What happens later in March when they meet again at Staples Center? Hopefully more of the same. Hopefully more of the same thing will happen if the two meet in the playoffs.
This is going to be good. With any luck, apologies will be in short supply and competitive disdain will flow as long as the day is long. It's why we all fell in love with sports in the first place. Fight on, Clippers and Jazz. Pat each other on the fanny after the shooting and rebounding and sweating and talking and fouling and complaining are done.
Everybody knows where nice guys finish, right?
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.