Patrick Beverley took a break from his daily activities to answer a phone call that he tried to wrap up quickly so he could return to more important activities.
“I’m going back to playing ‘Call of Duty: Warzone‘ as soon as I’m off the phone with you,” the Clippers guard said. “I play every single day now. I’m serious. Like every single day, and I’m getting better at it. I’m hooked. I just love the action and being on a team and trash-talking and getting my teammates going.”
With the NBA season suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its return in limbo, Beverley is scratching his competitive and trash-talking itch by playing the popular battle royale video game, which was released last month and already has more than 50 million downloads. Beverley’s competitiveness was on display to a national audience on ESPN as he advanced to the semifinals of the «NBA 2K» Players Tournament last week before taking off his headset and walking off without offering congratulations after getting swept in a best-of-three series by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton.
“I’m locked in no matter what I’m doing,” Beverley said during the phone conversation, which took place before the taping of the tournament was broadcast. “If it’s a competition, I’m locked in. I’m talking to my teammates and talking to the opponent. That’s the type of player I am. I’m locked in. Anything I do that’s competitive, I try to win. That’s the way I’ve always been, and I like to keep it that way no matter what I’m doing. I don’t like people getting the best of me or saying that they beat me. Every game I play, every competition I’m in, whether it’s in a game, playing cards, video games, whatever it is, I’m trying to win. That’s always been my competitive nature.”
Beverley is back in Los Angeles after spending the last month in Houston with his family following the suspension of the season. The veteran guard recorded his Players Tournament games there against Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond and Ayton before returning last weekend to prepare for the presumed resumption of the season.
“Everything happened so fast,” Beverley said. “My biggest thing is I wanted to see my mom and my grandma and family in Houston and make sure they were safe. I’m in L.A. now, and I’m optimistic we’ll be back. I’m training like we’re coming back. Whatever it takes for us to be as healthy as possible and as safe as possible and get us back to playing basketball as soon as possible, I’m all for that.”
As hard as it has been to be isolated, Beverley said he has been in touch with his teammates and coaches every day during this global pandemic and they have all adopted coach Doc Rivers’ mantra: Win the wait.
“We’ve been texting, we do FaceTime and we have Zoom workouts,” Beverley said. “We’re still locked in. Our strength and conditioning guys are doing a hell of a job of keeping us locked in and making sure we’re ready. We’ve been keeping in touch, and we continue to motivate each other. We’re calling each other every day. We’re trying to stay active because you never know when we might get that call to start up again, and if we do, we’re ready.”
Last summer, Beverley signed a three-year, $40-million contract to return to the Clippers before the team acquired All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to become championship favorites at a number of sportsbooks. From Leonard’s “load management” to resting other key players at various moments throughout the season, the Clippers have focused on being in the best position to win the franchise’s first championship when the playoffs arrived, which would have been this week. Now they must wait to see whether they will get a chance to see that plan through.
“It would be hard if we didn’t get to finish what we started,” Beverley said. “We want to play now. We put together a team to win now, and all the hard work that we put into that, it would be hard to see it undone, but safety is first and if the season was canceled, we’ll quickly focus on next season. Basketball is a year-round thing for us. It’s not a seasonal thing. Most of us on the team play every single day. We take basketball very serious on the Clippers, so whether it’s this season or next season, we’ll be ready when it’s safe to come back.”
One of the options the NBA is discussing in resuming the season, or at least playing the postseason, would be staging all games at a neutral-site location, perhaps in Las Vegas, and creating a «bubble» for all teams to live, eat, practice and play games without any fans in attendance.
“It would be tough as hell to play without fans,” Beverley said. “Fans are such a big part of the game. They’re the reason you can take a four-point lead to a 14-point lead at home. Clipper Nation is such a big part of what we do, but if we have to play without fans away from home, we’ll be ready for that. We’re going to do everything necessary to make sure we’re winning games and making our fans happy.”
Before hanging up the phone, Beverley, who is rarely at a loss for words, sighed and was silent for a moment.
“It’s unfortunate we’re on a call like this,” Beverley said. “I’m not playing basketball, you’re not covering basketball and the fans can’t watch basketball. It’s tough, but we’re all in this together and we’re going to get through this together and be back soon.”