Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson Discuss Store: The Clipper That May Have Been
“I don't think people really know what it was like.
People think like, you have to understand, there were five of us like 20 and less. So everyone is literally – we are all at the starting point. We are all here. We at the starting point for the race of our careers. So everyone is trying to get out of the blocks, do you feel me? "
In 2000, the Los Angeles Clippers made a landmark decision by commissioning Darius Miles, East St. Louis High School striker, with the third overall selection in the draft. In a trend that grew in popularity following the success of players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Tracy McGrady, Miles became the most highly drafted high school player in NBA history.
Fifteen picks later, the Clippers DePaul wings would take over Quentin Richardson and line up with a young and dynamic roster that included Lamar Odom (fourth overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft) and former 13th overall pick Corey Maggette.
When Elton Brand got started, the Clippers looked like an aspiring team built for lasting success.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, Los Angeles and the NBA, a front office led by the late Elgin Baylor decided to swap Miles and Odom before the young team could step in and reach their full potential, prompting Richardson to leave early.
While the later players like Sam Cassell and Chris Kaman made it possible for the Clippers to regain a foothold for a short time, they should not regain a foothold until almost 10 years after the loss of the promising Miles and Richardson.
Aware of the reputation that follows the franchise and the short-lived era of the duo with them, Q-Rich and D-Miles stood up with us to look back. In an interview with SLAM, the Lifelong Friends talk about their time with the Clippers, the current NBA landscape, and how their time in the NBA has changed it outside of the court.
SLAM: What do you think of the less high-profile teams that show up – guys like Trae Young showing what they can do on the national stage?
DM: I think it's the generation change. It's time for a new generation, you have a new generation of superstars. People forget that LeBron James is 36. He's been in the finals for just a decade! You have to, you know – he has two or three years left – so now we have to see a few more faces in those positions and we see that in Trae Young and Devin Booker and all these other teams that are in that.
I think it's just the generation change. We are in a new era.
SLAM: I was just reading something where Q-Rich was speaking when you all came into the league with the Clippers, you all felt that you all have to represent the youth to be this new generation. So do you see anything in one of these young guys that reminds you of yourself in some way?
DM: Somehow everyone, because everyone is young. All are young like us. We were the only ones; we were the only ones, so to speak. We were the only team that had five to six guys under the age of 21. You know what I mean? Something like this has never been done before. So we were the first of the era. But if you look at the era now, there are people who are 23 and younger who are all stars.
DM: (laughs) They are the top scorer in the league. They are the top rebounders. Like these guys are young and it looks like us. So they all look like they're kidding you know They celebrate. You play a lot. Everyone looks like us because they're a bunch of young guys.
QR: The two – the teams – I would agree with what D is saying across the league, it's that so many young players just go and kill and, as he said, are all-stars and borderline superstars and superstars . But the team I looked at, and when I look at them and say they kind of remind me of us as a young team – even though they were more successful than us – I kind of look at the Memphis Grizzlies.
You have a really young core. It's not that it's not a real team even with young people scattered around. Maybe her and Sacramento. Sacramento a little bit with their youth too and the way they have a bunch of young people who – even though they don't have full success – they have really exciting players and they play hard and they go out and do their thing as young people.
SLAM: Speaking of clippers – you all had (Corey) Maggette, (Elton) Brand–You all had, you know, talented guys. What do you think contributed to the fact that you couldn't be a playoff team like the Hawks or the Grizzlies?
QR: Only we don't stay together. We didn't hold the core together. We were successful. What people don't realize – they're like humans, we were killed – that's really not the story. When we got there they won 17 out of 82 before we got there. So in our first year we won 31 games. Then our next year we won 39 games. In our sophomore year we were two games before the playoffs. Then, in our third year, I left. Lamar (Odom) left. You kind of blew up the whole team.
So we succeeded. It was on the way to success, but we have no chance of really sticking together and getting a good three – like a good four years – of it. I don't think people really know what it was like. People think like, you have to understand, there were five of us like 20 and less. So everyone is literally at – we are all at the starting point – we are all here. We at the starting point for the race of our careers. So everyone's trying to get out of the blocks, do you feel me?
So it wasn't like that – as much as we were homies, all friends, all brothers, and we grew and still have those relationships – man, the first 1-2 years were some of the most competitive years you've ever seen because of us not all could play. That's why people always saw us get in on garbage time – whenever it didn't matter – it was time to do your shit. Do you know what i'm saying It was, of course, because we didn't know. We were all at the beginning, so we looked at each other – maybe D-Miles has all the success now – we all looked like, "Man, we want to play, we want to play."
So we totally support him – you can see it in the clips, every time he does something we all jump up and down and vice versa. When one of us does something, we all – we all – cheer each other. But at that time (Alvin) Gentry wasn't playing against us and I was talking to Coach about it like I was playing for him in the future and all that and I know him. It was like he wasn't playing all of us.
He'd made the decision that, "Well, okay, if Q is playing, Corey can't play."
"If Corey is playing, Q cannot play."
You know what I mean? D-Miles only plays because he was in the role of Sixth Man and he can play almost any position. But then Keyon (Dooling) couldn't play because J-Mac (Jeff McInnis) is playing.
DM: Yeah, Earl Boykins played sometimes.
QR: So when we got out it didn't matter how much time there was, it didn't matter what was going on. We had to prove our worth. That's why you saw what you saw.
You saw guys out there going crazy trying to get in on people, D-Miles crossing people, Keyon "smitty" -ing people, you saw all the special moves because you say that:
"Aye, when you're out there, make your special move."
DM: Make your special move. Do what you do
Like I said, people do this and look back and you really have to discuss it and see, we succeeded … We just got on a team that was at the bottom of the barrel. Do you know what i'm saying We won 15 more games than they did veterans.
Because they (Maurice) Traylor had on that team. You had Lamar on that team. They had all of these guys – these veterans on this team – and they basically came on this team with high school and college kids and we win 15 more games than they won last year. We add another eight games that we won last year (year) and we were two games from the playoffs.
The next year it was set in stone that we would finally do it. Like the second year we put Elton in the All-Star game, do you get what I'm saying? We came!
QR: Everyone was paid by this court too.
DM: Yeah. We got together, but we only played two years together, but everyone thinks we played a whole decade or half a decade or something like that.
SLAM: Did you feel like some of these guys won't be here in three or four years?
QR and DM: No!
DM: It was blindside because I was the first to go. For example, in the summer I was traded. And it was a culture shock for everyone because they looked like, "Oh, he's the one who's doing the advertising, (who) is putting them on the billboard."
The last person likely to be traded is D-Miles or Lamar. And D-Miles and Lamar were the two who were out that summer. You know what I mean? It was a culture shock for everyone. It threw us off. It showed us the business. Because when I got to Cleveland, I realized how good I was actually.
Because when I got to Cleveland it was like starting all over again. They were a young team, they brought in those high school cats, they did all that stuff, but it wasn't the same. We weren't a team environment. We used to be together every day (with the Clippers). Like six, seven of us. Like us together.
DM: I'm talking Thanksgiving. Christmas. My mom cooks at the crib. Like us all the time together. On the way we eat together: “What are we doing?” Go to the cinema and eat.
SLAM: So you think it was a different mood in Cleveland than with your teammates?
DM: Yes, because I didn't know her too. Like I know the boys. I knew DeSagana Diop. I knew Dajuan Wagner. I knew Ricky Davis. I knew a couple of these guys, but we weren't as close as I was with Q and Keyon and Corey. You know what I mean? Me and Q and Corey, we're from the same state. We basically grew up together.
DM: Then add Keyon. Then we played against Elton and Lamar during the AAU. Corey played with Elton. It was like a whole connection. We were already connected.
But when I got to Cleveland it was just a different environment. It wasn't the same. It wasn't team oriented. I was still team minded because I made sure that every team I went to took time all year round to go through all of my teammates' houses or create such an environment because the best environment for teams is when you stick together.
You know what I mean? You build a kind of trust. And I've tried that on every other team, but it wasn't the same as the Clippers.
SLAM: You say the relationships you build inside the facility are different from the relationships you build outside.
D-Miles: And sometimes it's just a year. One year all best friends. We're together this whole year, it's like a whole bonding journey and then next year we may not even talk to each other. You need this bond or this year to get the chemistry on and off the court. How Q had it in Phoenix, you know?
SLAM: Q, how did you feel? Because it's been a year, but you won all 62 games.
QR: 62-20. That was, I mean, I was in the Atlanta studio the other day doing NBA TV and Jim Jackson and we talked about it back then because Jim Jack was recorded later in the 2004-05 season.
But he talked about how our team was such a familiar environment and we just hugged him as a brother, it was like seamless. Because that was one of – probably the most – special years I've had in terms of team success in the NBA, and it was because of the way we were from day one.
(Note: Before Steve Nash signed with the Suns, he cut his salary to ensure the Suns could sign Richardson in July 2014.)
We signed up and got to town in mid to late August when most of the teams are in town in mid September, some after Labor Day and all that. We were all in town. The most important pieces were all in town. Really not just the main pieces, we were all in town. Train on the system, play pickup, get to know each other like literally every day.
That's when I got into a relationship with Joe Johnson because he and his boys are all about the same age. We'd train, honk, practice, then we all go – I'll go to his house … play Madden, video games, whoopty-woop whatever, just go for it. Then we go out to eat. Steve, me, Amar’e (Stoudemire). Everyone. It was as if it had become something.
Richardson and Miles are currently co-hosting the popular Knuckleheads podcast, and not just using the connections they have made during their career as a player for post-NBA opportunities, but the couple recognize and recognize their status as members of the NBA fraternity uses him to grow her audience and her guest list.
Q-Rich and D-Miles are known for bringing convenience to their guests by simply being themselves and having casual conversations. The sixth part of their season will be completely virtual, with high profile names like Ray Allen, Donovan Mitchell, Dr. J, Jamal Mashburn, Chris Mullin and Bradley Beal who will be joining the show.
Even Miles & # 39; former teammate Dajuan Wagner will be on the show.
"This is our 'Sucker Free' episode," says Miles. "I'm glad I got the opportunity to represent him and let people hear his story."