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Bill Plaschke

Truth turns out to be inconvenient to Brand

July 10, 2008|Bill Plaschke

Watching him cuddle up to his new friends in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the sad confusion streaming out of his mouth in short, awkward bursts, you just wanted Elton Brand to tell the truth.

The truth is, he just didn't want to be a Clipper.

The organization folks thought he liked them. He barely tolerated them.

The Clipper Nation thought he loved them. He barely noticed them.

Coach Mike Dunleavy thought Brand enjoyed playing for him. Wrong again.

Even the Hollywood hotshots thought he had become one of them. That was his best acting job yet.

The truth is, Brand probably wanted to leave from the moment the Clippers matched the Miami Heat's offer five years ago, forcing him to stay.

He wanted to play in an offense that better suited him, in an area of the country closer to his New York home, for fans that were more like his collegiate Cameron Crazies.

Heck, he had already sold his Los Angeles house and ended this season living in an apartment.

The question is, why didn't he just say this?

Why didn't he just tell the Clippers he was leaving before they went through the charade of spending millions to buy him a point guard accompaniment?

Why on earth would he tell Dunleavy he would take less money if it enabled them to sign Baron Davis?

Why would he do this to Baron Davis?

"My intention is to stay," Brand said last week.

Why did he lie?

"Right now, [opting out of his contract] it's just trying to solidify my future and work things out with the Clippers," he said.

Why did he lie?

His agent, a faded power broker named David Falk, said Brand opted out because he was just trying to, "afford the team roster flexibility."

Of course, we know why he lied.

Falk hasn't been relevant in the NBA since Michael Jordan had hair, and he is using Brand as a springboard in his attempt to return to power.

But this is not about Falk, this is about Brand, an adult who can make his own decisions.

And if Brand had just told the Clippers the truth, from the beginning, there would be no problem.

Brand gave the Clippers seven good years, he has a right to play wherever he wants.

But did he have a right to throw a match on them on his way out?

Maybe that's just Brand. He has always talked a good game but never quite walked it.

He was a supposed team leader, but the team followed him to only one playoff berth in seven years. He was very visible when they were winning, but very quiet when they were losing.

Maybe by telling the Clippers what he thought they wanted to hear, he was only taking the same Teflon approach that has marked his career.

And there he was Wednesday, telling the Philadelphia media what it wanted to hear.

"We were left with an ultimatum," Brand said of the Clippers.

The Clippers deny it, and common sense confirms it.

The Clippers offered $70 million, then $75 million, then finally, $81 million, about $200,000 a year less than the 76ers' offer. That's an ultimatum?

"We asked for some things . . . it fell through," Brand said of the Clippers.

What more could he have wanted? A company car?

"There was no underground handshake between Baron Davis and myself, that's totally not true," Brand said.

Right. It was handshake between Brand and Dunleavy, the coach quietly brokering the return of a player he trusted.

Brand didn't actually shake Davis' hand, no, but he reportedly filled up his cellphone, calling and texting and recruiting.

Brand told Dunleavy that if Davis came, he would stay.

This arrangement was never shared with Falk, who became angry at yet another bit of mud splattered on his yellowed resume.

Some say Falk was so angry that Brand had negotiated without him, he steered his client to the 76ers just to make the Clippers pay.

"I didn't know it then, I know it now," Falk told The Times' Jonathan Abrams about the Brand-Dunleavy arrangement. "It's probably the reason that the deal fell apart."

How classy. An agent bragging about using his client as a pawn for some sort of childish revenge.

Again, Elton Brand might not be the man we thought he was, but he is certainly man enough to say no to David Falk.

If only he had been man enough to tell the Clippers the truth.

He never liked it here, and couldn't wait to leave, and is now thrilled he is gone.

For seven years, he pretended to be an Angeleno, becoming so familiar here he was simply known as "Elton."

Now that we have seen the real person, we will forever know him by another singular, five-letter name, that of "Boooo."

--

Bill Plaschke can be reached at bill.plaschke@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Plaschke, go to latimes.com/plaschke

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