Look who gets to be the good guy. It is hard to get ejected from an NBA playoff game, but Draymond Green figured out how to pull it off on Sunday. He got sent to the showers in the first half for clocking Brandon Clarke during the Golden State Warriors Game 1, 117-116 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. He knows that this is one of the few times that the public is largely on his side, because how dare this soft 21st century NBA eject an important player for a hard foul in a playoff game.
Green is one of those players that toes the line at all times and occasionally leaps over it while playing basketball with the fury of a second-round pick who didn’t become a starter until his third NBA season. He was a consensus first-team All-American in his final season at Michigan State, but NBA teams didn’t know what position he would be able to play.
Four all-star appearances later, yes he plays the game with some acid and kerosene, but why would he ever change if it got him this far, as he explained to the media on Monday. He went a bit too far on his podcast believing when he said that during the review he thought that might not even receive a flagrant foul 1 for hitting Bradon Clarke face and pulling his jersey. But everything that has happened since his ejection gone in his favor — besides the NBA refusing to downgrade the flagrant. The public instantaneously went to bat for him after his ejection on social media. He probably got a good feel for that while in the locker room watching the rest of Game 1, so he capitalized on it.
As of Monday night, the video of his podcast released after the game was trending at No. 15 on YouTube. He then wouldn’t only explain himself there, but he spoke to the media on Monday, and then went to a friendly platform to speak on television the following day. Prior to Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers Game 1, Green spoke on NBA on TNT — the network where he was doing sideline work during the All-Star Game less than three months ago and has appeared on set.
Green again defended himself even though Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley did not entirely agree with his assessment. Barkley said that while Green didn’t commit a single flagrant 2, he definitely committed two flagrant 1’s, but on that show the situation is almost always comical. Green gets to plead his case on the NBA’s top-rated television platform, and so what if Chuck and Kenny don’t enthusiastically take his side and instead tell him that he was at least a little bit wrong? Unless it’s Kevin Durant answering Barkley with one word or Shaq telling Donovan Mitchell that he doesn’t believe that the Utah Jazz standout is a superstar, the interview likely won’t become contentious, and if it does it’s still content.
Barkley and Green have had their beef in the past, but Green knows not to take that personally anymore. He’s better off just riffing with the Chuckster and it will make more people want to watch when he appears on TNT, and listen to his podcast. On Monday he was giving a breakdown of the Warriors’ Game 1 victory, as well as giving thoughts on the other playoff series. How many other players still playing in the playoffs are giving that kind of inside perspective? Colin Cowherd, excellent addition to your The Volume family.
This is why Green wins in the way that he couldn’t when he got suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Unlike other players who sometimes hover around the rules instead of staying inside, he’s making a brand off of it. This isn’t Rodman marrying himself to sell a book, it’s Green still saying what he feels about soft NBA players, and also being able to plead his case, on his own time, that he’s not such a bad guy on the court. He even answered Ernie Johnson’s question about his histrionics while leaving the floor after his ejection, by saying that he was motivating his teammates to carry on the fight in his absence.
Green is not only controlling the backlash with his own platform, but he is tapping into those people who have in their minds that they’re tough guys and back in their day athletes were tough as well. Green even brought up to Charles, Kenny, and Shaq how that play likely would’ve been called differently in their day — however, it likely would’ve also depended on the player who committed the infraction back then as well. Also, when Jae Crowder doesn’t get ejected for a shot to Luka Dončić’s “midsection,” Green gets to give his instant social media response and will likely have something to say about it on his next episode.
The people were tired of the Warriors half a decade ago. They were tired of the winning, of Stephen Curry’s shimmys and of Green hitting people where the sun didn’t shine when Kevin Durant joined them to make the greatest team in NBA history following the 2016 postseason. Now the banged up Warriors for the last three years are an underdog story while their home stadium is in a place where a person making a decent wage would have to find a way to regularly sell blood plasma and bone marrow to afford a 1-bedroom apartment.
And right now, at the center of it is Green who struck another person in the face, and is largely being seen as the victim. My, how times have changed since the 2016 NBA Finals. But congratulations Draymond, you’re winning in a way that no one would’ve thought was possible back then.