Posted by Michael Flores | Sports

One of my favorite Magic-playing sports fanatics is Patrick Sullivan. Make that one of my favorite humans.

The first time I played Patrick he had two 2/1 White Weenie creatures and a Phyrexian Negator in play while I had a Masticore… that I forgot to pay upkeep on. The beatdown specialist has not been one whit kinder to opponents in the ensuing fourteen years.

A Red Deck specialist with numerous Open, Invitational, and Grand Prix Top 8s, Patrick is both a highly active game designer and a full time Magic commentator for StarCity Games, covering their Open Series and Invitationals. You can follow Patrick on Twitter at @basicmountain.

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I.
Relatively early on in our friendship I expressed to you that my favorite NBA player was not the obvious choice of hometown hero LeBron James, but the animated Brazilian Anderson Varejao. You responded that that opinion was consistent with having “a black and white MySpace profile pic” and just spammed my wall with a bunch of Josh Smith highlight videos. How did a lifelong Jersey boy get into then-Atlanta’s Josh Smith?

I’ve always been passionately, foolishly drawn to players who can do everything except shoot the ball, and Josh perhaps is the most intense iteration of that player in the history of the league. Combine that with a guy playing with his hometown team right out of high school (a particular charm for a Jersey kid who grew up with Springsteen and The Sopranos), and I was immediately drawn to Smoove. The last few years have been painful, but I really enjoyed this year’s quasi-vindication in the playoffs, even if it came at the expense of the Clippers.

II.
Since moving to California you seem to have transplanted your NBA fandom squarely into the Staples Center. Was there any indication at the time the Clippers were going to be any good at all [let alone perennial contenders]?

The Clippers nailed a couple of drafts in a row, the most important thing for a franchise that, shall we say, wasn’t a free agent destination for the last few decades. Blake seemed like a no-brainer star the second he hit the court, and DJ, Eric Bledsoe, and Eric Gordon all looked like promising players early in their careers. It seemed likely that the group would either develop into a promising core on their own, or that some of them would get flipped for Hypothetical Disgruntled Star X when one became available. You never know how it’s going to play out, but it seemed like only a (short) matter of time before the Clippers became, at the minimum, a 50 win team for a couple of years.

III.
How do you feel about this week’s Clippers trade for Lance Stephenson? (a year ago I would have put him as a Top 20 NBA star BTW)

The Clippers are capped out and don’t own a first round pick this year. Besides trading someone in the Big 3, the only way the Clippers were going to add any talent was by taking a flyer on a guy who wore out his stay somewhere else. Combined with the fact that the Clippers got to dump the heinous Hawes deal, I’d make this trade 100 times out of 100. Feel free to dredge this paragraph up when Lance is screaming at CP3 or running his fingers through Harden’s beard during the playoffs next year.

IV.
As a relatively young Clippers fan, how gratifying is it to have seen DeAndre Jordan’s improvement over the past couple of seasons? Personally, I feel he is like the defensive Steph Curry in terms of development and trajectory.

DJ’s improvement has been startling, both in terms of physique (I screamed “You look heavy!” at him his first year in the league, back when I said things like that at strangers) and his overall basketball acumen. In the long-term, I think the pairing with Blake is awkward enough that I think the Clippers should look to move him for a star who can space the floor, but when he’s engaged he’s one of the most significant defensive players in the league.

V.
Were you ever worried that the Clips were going to win it all, tear off their jerseys, and reveal that — ZOINK! — the CP3 trade had actually gone through and they were secretly the Lakers after all?

No — those dudes hate the other team in LA, and the Clippers rubbing the Lakers’ noses in sh*t has been a 4-times-a-year delight for your’s truly. On a related note, the last few years have revealed some deep insecurities among Lakers fans, like handling a few years in the doghouse is beneath them or something. Were I a Lakers fan, I’d like to think that witnessing the current tragicomic Kobe Bryant era would hold me over until the next transcendent superstar decides to sign over there, but I can’t say for sure. It’s easy to get spoiled, I guess.

VI.
Who is the best player in the NBA? The GOAT?

I think Anthony Davis was the best player in the league during the regular season, but LeBron was so impressive/inspiring/cyborg-ish during the playoffs that I can’t discuss this rationally right now. I hate discussing the GOAT because it’s so hard to account for how different diet, travel, pace of play, etc., were during different eras, but I think LeBron, MJ, Magic, or Bill Russell are all fine answers.

VII.
BDM claims that being a sports fan is like a religion; you get born into it and that’s it. As someone born into the Nets, what can you say to an embattled Knickerbockers guy about how you’ve not only dipped your toe into the Hawks but really gone full-bore into the Clips?

I spent a few years as a passionate basketball agnostic, but I got to do that in part because the Nets were so uninspiring, even when they were very good, that bouncing around didn’t feel like a violation of some sacred oath or something. Now, I go to Clippers games, I’m invested, and I like to think I’ll continue to do so when Chris and Blake inevitably leave and I’m stuck rooting for some sad-sack group of recent lottery picks and veteran retreads in 2020. I might return to basketball agnosticism at some point, but I won’t ever root for another franchise again, assuming the Clippers stay in LA and remain owned by a human instead of a ghoul.

VIII.
Two words: Doc Rivers

A good X’s and O’s guy, a great Leader of Men, and a well-below-average GM, even factoring the Stephenson heist. I wish he would stay out of front office affairs, but as someone who has watched Mike Dunleavy and Vinny Del Negro coach the basketball team he roots for, it’s worth the cost of doing business.

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