Draymond Green has received a whole lot of attention through the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals. In Game 1, Green got tossed for a flagrant 2 foul on Brandon Clarke, and in Game 2, Green left the game after taking an elbow to the eye and flipped off fans of the Memphis Grizzlies as he made his way into the back, something that he says “felt really good” because fans were booing him even though he anticipates a fine is headed his way.
Green’s comments drew the ire of Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Wednesday’s edition of First Take, with Russo saying that Green is “so hard to root for” and that he wants him to “shut up and play,” because America is “tired of Draymond Green.” You don’t really need to hear the rest because you can more or less put two and two together on how the rest of it went, but if you’re interested, it’s the first two minutes or so of this clip:
Anyway, JJ Redick was on the First Take set on Wednesday, meaning that someone who is very good at responding to this sort of stuff was in prime position to fire back. Here is what Redick had to say.
— Marcus Dash (@DashOfNews) May 4, 2022
“The same sort of connotations that the ‘shut up and dribble’ crowd has towards athletes, and I have a real problem with that,” Redick said. “Specifically with Draymond, the idea that America is tired of him, you do realize the guy has a very, very popular podcast that he hosts, where he talks — himself — for a majority of the episode, and people listen to that. He signed a talent deal with Turner because people want to hear what Draymond has to say. The reason they want to hear was Draymond has to say, is because just like in his press conference, he is real, authentic, and unfiltered, and as a player, he is real, authentic, and unfiltered. The edge that he carries himself with, he’s talked about this since game one, Klay Thompson has talked about this since game one, it’s what makes him great. It’s what makes him a future Hall of Famer. It’s the reason he is who he is. It’s just like saying, hey Ja Morant, stop dancing when your teammate’s making a three. The reason Ja Morant is great is because he plays with joy, and fun, and a carefree attitude, and a fearlessness. You can’t take away what makes aa player great. So there’s no ‘shut up and play.’”
Russo tried to respond by saying Green is polarizing and that for every fan who enjoys his podcast, “I can give you 50 million fans who would say the same thing: enough already.” He also attempted to say that while young fans might like Green, a “large segment of older fans who have followed the NBA for 60 years” do not like him.
Despite Russo claiming this “is not a political scenario or a race situation,” Redick pointed out that this rhetoric is the sort of thing that comes from a very specific place in the media world.
“I’m not saying it’s a race situation, I’m saying that the fans you’re talking about, they talk about athletes that way, like you just talked about an athlete,” Redick said. “People on Fox News talk about athletes that way, that’s my issue. I don’t actually care about the fans that watched Bob Cousy play, and watched Wilt play, I don’t care. I appreciate that they’ve been NBA fans that long, but I don’t appreciate the undertones.”
It’s one of the more direct repudiations we’ve seen of the kinds of old school fans who tend to have Russo’s worldview of sports. Redick’s comments earned him praise from another ex-player on ESPN, as Kendrick Perkins took to Twitter to commend him — among others.
My brother @jj_redick had to straighten Mad Dog like a flat iron! God Bless America.
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) May 4, 2022
Anyway, Redick is right.