Chris Russo tells Warriors’ Draymond Green to essentially shut up and dribble



Chris “Mad Dog” Russo (left) and JJ Redick
screenshot: ESPN

For Knicks fans born before 1990, Mike and the crazy dog was a rite of passage for their fandom. The NYC afternoon radio show on WFAN ran from 1989 to 2008 and was a seminal source for New York Knicks talk. In addition, the show inspired many of the current Knicks YouTube creators, such as Casey Powell, aka CP The Fanchise, who hosts KnicksFanTV and cites the show as inspiration.

Since the 1999 finale, the James Dolan era has been dominated by so-called “LOL Knicks” or “Knicks for clicks” coverage. These pejorative terms describe a style of reporting that portrays the Knicks as having been pushed further into the abyss for over 20 years. To be fair, the franchise has been one of the worst in all sports since that final run. The team experienced its two worst times under the stewardship of two Hall of Famers: Isiah Thomas and Phil Jackson.

Mike and the crazy dog was always a respite from the meaningless chatter. It was honest and fair analysis from two die-hard Knicks fans. Listening to the two of them on the drive home from work, just you and their soaring voices, would make Knicks fans feel a little less alone in their misery. If only for the trip home.

But like the tired old adage, nothing good lasts forever. Recently, Chris Russo, the duo’s “Mad Dog,” was invited as a recurring guest on ESPN First take with longtime presenter Stephen A. Smith and former NBA player JJ Redick.

Russo, known for his fiery takes and penchant for arguments, didn’t take time to unleash a diatribe about his dislike of Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green.

“Just shut up and play, please [Draymond]’ Russo recently said on the show. “America is fed up with Draymond Green.”

Taking offense at Russo’s comments, Redick fired back quite sharply, matching Russo’s “shut up and play” language with Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s comments a few years ago about Lebron James and Kevin Durant’s criticism of then-President Donald Trump connected.

Ingraham commented on James’ comments on her Fox News program as “barely understandable” and “ungrammatical”. The Ingraham angle.

“It’s always unwise to take political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to play a ball,” she said. “Keep the political comments to yourself. … Shut up and dribble.”

That rallying cry was an anthem for Fox News viewers, conservatives and baby boomers until former NBA player Enes Kanter used his platform to denounce China’s human rights abuses amid the league’s partnership with Nike, where its products are made. Kanter did several laps around the Fox News tracks and was praised by many of the same voices who echoed Ingraham’s comments for James to “shut up and dribble.” It’s less about the messenger and more about the message.

Which brings us back to Russo, who obviously despises Green. Redick rightly pointed out that Green has a weekly Apple podcast, The Draymond Green Show, one of the most popular gamer-hosted podcasts. Redick also noted that Green is the newest member of the hugely successful group Inside the NBA Show on TNT considered by most to be the greatest sports program of all time. It should be noted that Inside the NBA also features Charles Barkley, a player who was once hated by conservatives for his outspoken views and brave personality until, in recent years, he said things Republicans can agree on and share on Facebook to show everyone that they have a black friend. Take Ferguson for example, when he called looters “scumbags”. He has also mimicked conservative talking points, claiming the media is race-obsessed while making pro-cop statements at protests over police brutality and killings.

Only Russo himself knows where his comments came from. While they smack of prejudice, they might as well be from another self-serving place. After years of taking his words out of context and using them as clickbait, Green has taken the media into his own hands to write his own narrative. After being ejected for a lame Flagrant 2 in Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies, Green ignored the mainstream media and took to his podcast to discuss the ejection. It’s plausible that Russo and other media outlets covering the playoffs recognized the power of players like Green. NBA players no longer have to rely on the media to make their voices heard. Even the lowest paid player can afford a microphone and web domain. They can record their podcast and disseminate their opinions free of the press.

Many Americans distrust the mainstream media and are tired of being twirled by both sides of the political aisle. This has expanded to NBA players. Green wanted to control his narrative, revealing how irrelevant voices like Russo could become.

Redick responded perfectly to Russo without mentioning race. In fact, it was Russo who first mentioned race to defend that his comments had nothing to do with Green’s skin color, although Redick had said nothing about race up to that point. Redick had linked Russo’s diatribe to Fox News, perhaps there was a Freudian slip-up on Russo’s part to defend something he had thought, perhaps unconsciously, but not said out loud.

But it goes both ways. Conservatives are not the only hypocrites in our divisive and toxic political discourse. Conservatives are right to roast the screeching harpies of the left who advocate inclusion and equality while remaining silent and championing censorship. Russo’s comments reflect the thin skin of boomers who want wayward, outspoken black athletes to shut up and just play basketball. Unless they say something they agree with.

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