Look who’s gonna be the good guy. Getting knocked out of an NBA playoff game is tough, but Draymond Green figured out how to do it on Sunday. He was sent in the shower in the first half for stopping Brandon Clarke during Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors 117-116 against the Memphis Grizzlies. He knows this is one of the few instances where the public is largely on his side, because how dare this soft-spoken 21st-century NBA eject a key player for a hard foul in a playoff game?
Green is one of those players who always stands on the line and occasionally jumps over it in basketball with the fury of a second-round pick who only became a starter in his third NBA season. He was a first-team consensus All-American in his final season at Michigan State, but NBA teams didn’t know what position he might play.
Four All-Star appearances later, yes, he’s playing the game with some acid and kerosene, but why would he ever change when it’s gotten him this far, as he explained to the media Monday. He walked a bit too far on his podcast when he said that during the review he thought he might not even get a flagrant foul 1 for punching Bradon Clarke in the face and pulling his jersey. But everything that’s happened since his sacking has gone in his favor — aside from the NBA refusing to downgrade the flagrant. The public went out for him on social media immediately after his sacking. He probably got a good feel for it watching the rest of Game 1 in the dressing room, so he capitalized on that.
As of Monday night, the video of his podcast, released after the game, was trending at No. 15 on YouTube. Not only would he then explain himself there, but he spoke to the media on Monday and then went to a friendly platform to speak on TV the next day. Before Miami Heat, Game 1 of the Philadelphia 76ers, Green spoken At NBA on TNT — the network he worked on the side during the All-Star Game less than three months ago and appeared on set.
Green defended again, although Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley didn’t entirely agree with his assessment. Barkley said that while Green didn’t commit a single flagrant 2, he definitely committed two flagrant 1s, but on this show the situation is almost always comical. Green can make his case on the NBA’s highest-rated television platform, and what if Chuck and Kenny don’t enthusiastically side with him and instead tell him he was at least a little wrong? Unless it’s Kevin Durant answering Barkley with a word, or Shaq Donovan Mitchell saying he doesn’t think Utah Jazz’s pinnacle is a superstar, the interview probably won’t be contentious, and if it is, it always is still satisfied.
Barkley and Green have had their issues in the past, but Green knows not to take it personally anymore. He’s better off just riffing on the Chuckster, and it’ll get more people to watch when he shows up on TNT and listen to his podcast. On Monday, he provided a breakdown of the Warriors’ Game 1 win as well as thoughts on the other playoff series. How many other players still playing in the playoffs give that kind of inside perspective? Colin Cowherd, an excellent addition to your The Volume family.
Because of this, Green is winning in a way he couldn’t when he was suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Unlike other players who sometimes float around the rules instead of staying inside, he makes one brand from that. This isn’t Rodman getting married to sell a book, it’s Green who still says what he thinks about soft NBA players and is also able to argue in his spare time that he’s on the place is not such a bad guy. He even answered Ernie Johnson’s question about his theatrics when he left the floor after being kicked out, saying that he motivates his teammates to keep fighting in his absence.
Not only does Green control the backlash with his own platform, but he leverages the people who have in their minds that they are tough guys, and back then athletes were tough too. Green even put forward to Charles, Kenny and Shaq how that game probably would have been called differently in their time — but it also likely could have depended on the player who committed the infraction at the time. Even if Jae Crowder isn’t ejected for a shot at Luka Dončić’s “middle”, Green can give his instant reaction on social media and will likely have something to say about it in his next episode.
People were fed up with warriors half a decade ago. They were tired of winning, Stephen Curry’s shimmy’s and Green hitting people where the sun wasn’t shining when Kevin Durant joined them to form the greatest team in NBA history after the 2016 postseason. Now the beaten up Warriors of the last three years are an outsider’s story while their home turf stands in a place where a person earning a decent wage would need to find a way to sell blood plasma and bone marrow on a regular basis to get a one bedroom to be able to afford an apartment.
And right now, the focus is on Green, who punched another person in the face and is largely seen as the victim. My goodness, how times have changed since the 2016 NBA Finals. But congratulations Draymond, you’re winning in a way no one would have thought possible at the time.