The NBA and Kia teamed up years ago, but now the iconic car brand is literally partnering with their main spokesperson, forward Blake Griffin.
The Los Angeles Clippers announced earlier today that they have signed the 2017 Kia Sportage to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s expected to be a minimum contract for the embattled rookie.
The move is practically unprecedented in major sports, as no professional team has ever signed a vehicle to their roster. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that the Clippers actually intend to use the SUV as part of their rotation. The Sportage isn’t being signed to fill an end-of-the-bench role; rather, coach Doc Rivers has considered starting the SUV at small forward.
“We think the Sportage brings our lineup a lot of versatility,” Rivers said in an exclusive interview with The Lemon. “Its size means it can easily switch onto any offensive player, and he’ll surely be a mismatch on the offensive side of the floor. We’re really excited about its potential.”
Now, when Rivers is addressing the vehicle’s size, he isn’t necessarily referring to the height. After all, the Sportage measured at under five-and-a-half tall, and it’d rival Muggsy Bogues for the shortest player in NBA history. It was this major factor that scared teams from pursuing the Sportage in the first place.
However, Rivers is looking to capitalize on the Sportage’s unprecedented width and length. The new Clippers player comes in at more than six-feet wide and an incredible 14.7-feet in length, a pair of measurements that are unmatched in the league’s history.
“Sure, his height might be a detriment, but his width and length means he can hang with basically any position,” Rivers explained. “We’re truly looking to embrace the era of positionless basketball, and we believe the Kia Sportage is our organization’s first step to making that a reality.”
The Sportage, which didn’t start playing basketball until several days ago, has also impressed scouts with its hustle. The vehicle manages to deliver 21-miles-per-gallon on the court, meaning it could theoretically play seven whole games before it needs to be taken out of the lineup. The SUV also isn’t afraid to play a bit dirty, as the Sportage reportedly ran over several opponents during a couple of pickup games.
Naturally, some are wondering how the Sportage will even get up and down the court. In a landmark ruling, commissioner Adam Silver announced that one of the Sportage’s teammates will be allowed to operate the SUV during games.
“That role will probably be reserved for Sam Dekker,” Rivers revealed. “He sucks on the court, but he’s one hell of a driver.”
The Sportage’s new teammates are excited, including Kia spokesperson Blake Griffin. The forward was the one who first approached the Clippers front office about pursuing the SUV after having seen it play in a Brooklyn, New York pickup game.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting much from a SUV when it came to basketball,” Griffin said. “Sure, it really couldn’t shoot much, but absolutely no one on the opposing team could score. The Sportage’s offensive deficiencies don’t look nearly as bad because of its defensive skills. I wouldn’t be shocked in the Sportage wins multiple Defensive Player of the Year Awards.”
Teammate DeAndre Jordan agreed.
“I’ve always prided myself on being the team’s defensive ace,” Jordan said. “If anything, the Sportage is going to take a lot of pressure off of me.”
Unsurprisingly, some in the NBA is up in arms about the move. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said a SUV changes the entire sport for the worse.
“When do you stop,” Ainge asked. “Do you sign an entire team full of automobiles? What about tanks? Seriously, are we allowed to sign tanks?”
Former MVP Kevin Durant essentially echoed Ainge’s sentiments. In a series of now-deleted tweets from one of the player’s many alternative Twitter accounts, Durant said he’d consider retiring if more vehicles are signed into the league.
“I don’t want to risk my well-being by getting run over,” Durant tweeted. “I’m already a cupcake… you think I can tolerate a wheel going over my foot?”
Cavaliers forward Jae Crowder was seemingly most upset with the signing. The player quickly took to Twitter to air his frustrations.
“WHY WOULD YOU SIGN An SUV TO A BASKETBALL TEAM????” Crowder tweeted. “THAT SHIT DON’T MAKE NO SENSE!!!11!!!”
Even some of the Sportage’s teammates are questioning the transaction. Forward Danilo Gallinari, who was acquired by the Clippers this PAST offseason, lamented the fact that he lost his starting gig to a vehicle.
“I’m now questioning my basketball ability,” Gallinari admitted. “If I’m not good enough to beat out an inanimate object, am I even good enough to play in the NBA?”
Silver clearly heard the criticisms from around the league, and he quickly released a statement regarding the landmark signing.
“The NBA is constantly looking for ways to grow our brand,” Silver said. “I was admittedly skeptical when the Clippers organization first approached me about signing the Sportage, but the move could ultimately revolutionize the entire league. We’ve never seen a player of the Sportage’s caliper, and that’s an exciting revelation for our league as whole.”
It might not take long until teams starting following in the Clippers path. The Novo Basquete Brasil (the major professional basketball team in Brazil) has already signed several of the Sportage’s family members, including the Sedona and Optima. There are even rumors that the 2017 Kia Sportage’s younger brother, the 2018 Kia Sportage, is closing in on an agreement with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. This would mean the younger Sportage could be eligible for next year’s draft, and teams will surely be aiming for the top pick in pursuit of the SUV.
For now, the 2017 Kia Sportage will have to acclimate himself to the life of an NBA player. Fortunately, the SUV doesn’t seem to care about any of the criticisms.
“Vroom,” the car said, as Dekker slammed on the gas.