CATCHING UP WITH REGGIE EVANS
LOS ANGELES – Reggie Evans sat in the visitor’s locker room at Staples Center for the first time in more than two years.
Surrounded by reporters before Saturday’s Clippers-Nets game, Evans said, “It’s like ya’ll are waiting for Joe Johnson or something.”
Johnson, who was sitting to Evans’ immediate right, just grinned and shook his head. Johnson is a six-time All-Star and one of Brooklyn’s most recognizable players. Well, outside of Los Angeles.
Evans, who was a key reserve for the Clippers in 2011-12, was playing in front of the fans who chanted his name with abandon for the first time since donning a white No. 30 jersey. In less than a calendar year he went from cult icon to opponent.
“It feels good to be back in this atmosphere,” Evans said before his oft-celebrated ad lib, ‘I ain’t lying.’
“It’s not like we left on bad terms. It will be cool. It was so short of a season. I wish we could have an even longer season, but that’s not how it worked out.”
The Clippers sent Evans to Brooklyn in a sign and trade in the summer for a conditional draft selection. But despite spending such a short time in Los Angeles, Evans said Saturday it’s one of the stops in his career that he remembers most fondly.
“To be honest with you, I still cheer for them,” Evans said of the Clippers. “My mama, we still be talking about them. And she’ll be watching them, saying, ‘Look at my boys.’ There wasn’t any bad blood because I didn’t come back.”
Evans was an integral part of the Clippers’ seven-game series victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in round one of the playoffs last season. He scored the go-ahead basket in their historic 27-point comeback in Game 1 and his physical brand of basketball routinely prevented Memphis’ rugged front line from getting what they wanted in the paint.
His hustle and rebounding garnered the immediate adoration of the Clippers’ fan base and was something that stood out to Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro.
“He gets possessions and obviously possessions are key,” Del Negro said. “He’s having a very good year for [the Nets]. I’m happy for him. He gave us a great effort when he was here and he got us possessions when he was here.”
As the always jovial Evans reminisced about the Clippers it was clear his short time in Los Angeles made a significant personal imprint.
“My teammates and how much fun we had [are what I’d think of about last year], off the court, on the court. That’s the main thing that sticks out to me, my teammates,” Evans said. “It was my first time in some good weather. I was happy to come off the bench to play behind D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and Blake [Griffin]. And then the whole Lob City thing. It was exciting. At any time something could go down and when it would go down, you’d be like, ‘Whoa.’”
And Evans wouldn’t lie.