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T.J. SIMERS

Mo Williams hurting himself and Clippers with selfish attitude

The backup guard is unhappy he has not gotten a contract extension. It's the wrong way to act for a player who is signed through next season.

February 08, 2012|T.J. Simers

From Cleveland -- What a bummer.

Here I am in the middle of a fairy tale, with the Clippers playing like champions, only to stumble across a stereotypical selfish athlete hell-bent on making a fool of himself.

Until now it's been a love fest, the Clippers seemingly doing nothing wrong.

DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are acting as if they were raised together; Chris Paul's spreading around the goodwill as much as he does the basketball; and Caron Butler's comeback story is beyond inspirational.

The Clippers seemingly had something special going, but maybe there's some doubt now with Chauncey Billups going down for the season.

At the very least, it's the wrong time for Mo Williams to remind everyone how wrapped up he is in himself.

It's time for the Clippers to take a stand as a team to overcome such a hit, but instead Williams is saying, "I just want to know where I stand with the Clippers."

Translation: He's looking for a contract extension.

Me, me, and me, he's saying, as we sit down to talk about life without Billups, and why am I not surprised?

He was upset when the Clippers acquired Paul and Billups, two future Hall of Famers to buoy a long-lost franchise. Everyone is talking about what it might mean to have the Clippers improve so quickly except for Williams, who wants to know, what about me?

"I want to play," he says in explaining his attitude, but what he really means to say is, he wants to start.

But aren't Paul and Billups better players?

"I'll let you decide," Williams says. "They are teammates of mine, so I won't say."

I help him out: They are much better than you are.

Now Billups is out, and Coach Vinny Del Negro is going with Randy Foye as his starter instead of Williams.

Obvious question for Williams: Are you upset about this?

"For this team I have a role," he says, "whether I accept it or not."

And does he accept it, his job still to come off the bench and provide energy and scoring?

"Like I said, I'm playing basketball," he says.

He returns to Cleveland on Wednesday for the first time since being traded to the Clippers last season, and he says he never wanted to leave here. Spend five minutes here, and all you think about is leaving.

Now he wants to stay with the Clippers, he says, "But that's the one thing that bothers me the most; I don't know where I stand."

He's making $8.5 million to play for the Clippers and has a contract for next season that will bring him another $8.5 million. From this vantage point, it appears he's standing on pretty firm ground.

"If you have a girlfriend and she tells you she loves you every day, obviously you know she loves you," Williams says.

So does he want the Clippers to tell him every day they love him?

"The way they tell you they love you every day is by signing you to a contract extension," Williams says. So much for all the Clippers playing as if just for the fun of it.

Me, me, me, he's saying, and I'm telling him, why would he go out of his way to irritate people while sounding so selfish?

"What's the rush?" I say.

The Clippers are not even at the halfway mark this season, he has another year on his contract and he's bellyaching about wanting to be paid more?

"This has nothing to do with money," Williams says.

Any time an athlete says it has nothing to do with the money, it has everything to do with money.

"You misinterpreted what I said," Williams says. "This has nothing to do with money; I just don't know where I stand.

"I could be traded tomorrow. I could be traded next week or before March 15, [the trade deadline], or before next season. They aren't going to trade Blake Griffin."

I help him out again. "You are not in the same class as Blake Griffin," and he seems surprised.

"I'm not looking for anything," he says. "I'll approach every day the same and be prepared to play, but in a month I could be gone. I'm just answering your questions now."

If he's as good as he thinks he is, the contract extension becomes almost automatic, so why so eager now to force the issue?

"It's a reality, man. It's reality," he says, and I have no idea what he's talking about.

How about going out and proving yourself worthy of an extension?

"I don't have to prove anything," he says.

If so, then why is he working so hard to prove himself a selfish athlete with an inflated view of his skills?

"It doesn't matter what you write about me," Williams says. "A lot of things in life don't bother me."

If so, then why is he sounding so insecure?

On a night when everyone needs to elevate their game to account for Billups' loss, Williams disappears.

The Cavaliers are without their best player, aren't very good to begin with and are returning from a game in Miami a night earlier. But they are tougher than the Clippers, who play flat.

Del Negro is disgusted after the loss and without answers to explain the lack of energy.

Williams is two for 10 with five points in more than 34 minutes of play, and the man he's supposed to be guarding hits a three-pointer late to break a tie.

Williams then misses a layup, a moment later a three-pointer, but it's good to know he can at least talk a good game.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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