The Golden State Warriors won two games fairly comfortably at home at the Chase Center, but every playoff series changes when you go on the road. There’s travel and altitude to deal with, a generally less friendly whistle, and more than anything, opposing fans. The Dubs don’t just have to deal with Nikola Jokic and Company. They also have to deal with the 5280 Relentless, which I should stress refers to the elevation of Denver and not the expected attendance.
We know that the Memphis fans are going to boo Andre Iguodala relentlessly if the Warriors play there in Round Two, just like they incessantly booed Patrick Beverley this week, because they hate players the Grizzlies’ front office acquired to arbitrage draft picks and never played. But who is the most likely Warrior to be booed in each potential playoff road matchup? Since the other three first-round cities are tied up, we have to consider every possibility, even if most of the time the answer is, Draymond.
Phoenix: Draymond Green, because he’s had run-ins with Jae Crowder, and because he’s criticized the Suns organization relentlessly. Specifically, he went on Inside the NBA during the NBA Bubble in 2020 (where the Suns went undefeated) and said that Devin Booker deserved better than his team.
“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix. It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck, but they’ve gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win, because he’s that kind of player.”
Technically, Green was complimenting the Suns’ star, but he received a $50,000 fine for tampering as a result. Draymond, when someone asks you if you’re tampering, you say no! He’d also called the Suns a “s—ty franchise” earlier in the season, while defending then-Warrior Marquese Chriss. Draymond wasn’t really wrong about Phoenix, whose owner, Robert Sarver, is currently under investigation by the NBA after allegations of racist and misogynist behavior, allegations that recently cost him his job and board seat with an asset management company. The team also alienated No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton by refusing to sign him to an extension this summer.
If it was up to Chris Paul, the fans would boo Steph Curry, because of all the shimmying and that one time Curry dropped CP3 when he was on the Clippers.
Memphis: Andre Iguodala has been heckled non-stop since a July 2019 trade that sent him, along with a 2024 first-round pick, to the Grizzlies. Despite eaching a deal with the Grizzlies’ front office that he didn’t actually have to report to Memphis, the young Grizzlies and their fans got upset, while Iguodala spent the first half of the season training, taking meetings with tech companies in the Bay Area, and acting as Klay Thompson’s personal photographer.
The animosity might also have a lot to do with a quote from Andre before the deal even happened, where he told his wife that he’d be traded if Kevin Durant left the Warriors - “I’ll probably end up in Memphis or some s—.” The fans booed Iguodala every time he touched the ball in the Warriors’ recent visit to the FedEx Forum, while Dillon Brooks seems the most resentful of all the Grizzlies, who in 2020 said, “I cant wait til we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him really what Memphis is about.” He hasn’t felt any kinder since then:
“We all had the vision. He didn’t, which is perfect. Send him back to the Warriors and let him do his thing over there.”
“From the beginning, we were growing a base, we had a base and we kept building and building and building and more guys got on the train and we were able to create something like this and keep building this dynasty and this program up to new heights.”
For the record, this Memphis “dynasty” has resulted in two playoff wins so far.
Dallas: Mavs fans are also most likely to target Draymond Green, although Mark Cuban’s arch-enemy is probably Don Nelson, his former coach who bested him in a $6.3 million lawsuit about unpaid wages. Now Nellie’s son Donn is also suing Cuban for wrongful termination, saying he was fired for reporting sexual assault and harassment. This is for an organization that had “rampant sexual misconduct” as recently 2018. The NBA didn’t punish Cuban, but they made him donate $10 million to charity, like a creepy episode of Shark Tank where the sharks invest in buying their sullied reputations back. Cuban was also accused of committing sexual assault in a 2011 incident where he tried to use Kevin Love as a character witness. Cool owner!
But that’s not why Cuban has beef with Draymond. Their dispute dates back to 2017, when Draymond complained in an Instagram post about the use of the word “owner” in sports, in response to racist comments from the Houston Texans’ late owner, Bob McNair. “For starters, let’s stop using the word owner and maybe use the word Chairman.To be owned by someone just sets a bad precedent to start. It sets the wrong tone. It gives one the wrong mindset.” he wrote.
Cuban took that personally, demanding an apology from Green. “Draymond can trash-talk on the court, but when he comes into our world, it doesn’t fly,” he said. “I guess it’s because he went to Michigan State and didn’t take any business classes.” Maybe they don’t teach you about consent at Indiana, either. The NBA apparently agreed with Draymond, and now the teams all have “governors” instead. So Draymond is most likely to get booed, but it’s not clear that Cuban’s face is even capable of booing after so much plastic surgery and Botox.
Denver: The most disliked was originally Steph Curry, for sitting out two games and disappointing that little girl, but then he came back and played and made her whole year. So now the target is probably Andre Iguodala, who supposedly betrayed the Nuggets because he didn’t like how dirty the Nuggets were playing against Steph Curry in Round One of the 2013 playoffs. But maybe that was just George Karl, a Hall of Fame coach and Hall of Fame red ass, who wrote enough borderline-racist things in his autobiography that it’s pretty obvious why he didn’t get along with Iguodala (or Ray Allen or Boogie Cousins, or Kendall Gill, or anyone on the 1987 Warriors…).
Other than that, they might target Draymond, since he’s been shutting down Jokic. Or Klay Thompson because he jawed with Aaron Gordon earlier this series, but it’s unclear that Nuggets fans - or any fans at all - care about Gordon outside of dunk contests. Or that Denver fans dislike Klay. Let’s just say Klay’s whole vibe plays very well in a state that legalized marijuana.
Utah: Utah’s resentment of Draymond Green dates back to a report from Jazz writer Ben Dowsett that the Warriors were disrespecting the Jazz in their locker room after a win in 2015.
Can I be honest about something? I expected just a little more respect thrown the Jazz's way from GSW's locker room than what actually came.— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) December 1, 2015
Draymond’s response: Don’t lie.
“Number one — don’t tweet out what we are doing in our locker room if you aren’t interviewing us. That’s number one. Number two — don’t lie and try to make it out like we are doing something that we’re not.”
But the bigger reason that Jazz fans would target Draymond is that no fan base in the NBA is as invested in awards that the perpetually put-upon fans of Salt Lake City, although the city-wide freakout in Philadelphia about Joel Embiid’s MVP case is coming close. Remember when Donovan Mitchell wore a sweatshirt with the definition of “rookie” - the NBA equivalent of a political attack ad on Ben Simmons? Jazz media started hyping screen assists as a statistic, seemingly to pump up Rudy Gobert, who gets notably upset about All-Star snubs.
Rudy Gobert: “For all the kids watching, you’re basically telling them that defense doesn’t matter, that winning doesn’t matter.”— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) February 1, 2019
Draymond Green is Gobert’s rival for Defensive Player of the Year award nearly every season. Although this year Dray disappointed kids everywhere by missing too many games, and Marcus Smart (and Mikal Bridges) finished ahead of Rudy. So any success for Draymond, by Jazz logic, takes something away from Gobert, as if esteem is a zero-sum game, and thus booing Draymond is effectively a cheer for Rudy. Honorable mention to Andrew Wiggins, who “stole” Rudy’s All-Star starting spot this year.
Minnesota: We’re pretty sure Nemanja Bjelica left the organization on good terms, so the answer is Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins was the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, who the Cavs traded to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Love, at the time only their fifth All-Star ever, and first since Kevin Garnett. It wasn’t like Wiggins was terrible in Minnesota: he won Rookie of the Year, and he’s still the third-leading scorer in Wolves history. But Wiggs didn’t live up to the hype of being the franchise savior, though it’s not like he was the one who traded away Zach Lavine and Ricky Rubio, or gave Gorgui Dieng a massive long-term deal. Wiggins also has had some of his best games as a Warrior playing against his old team. Remember this one?
Still, as a Warriors fan, I get it. He’s Minnesota’s Mike Dunleavy Jr.
New Orleans Pelicans: Once again, Draymond Green is the default choice, mainly because Steph Curry is so cute and cuddly that it’s hard to make him a villain, even when he’s hitting impossible fallaway threes to tie a playoff game.
Should have been an and-one. There isn’t a lot of bad blood between the Pels and Dubs, but the closest probably came in the 2018 playoffs, when Draymond and Rajon Rondo got into a shoving match during Game Three. Draymond insisted the media made too much of the confrontation, but that’s honestly the most contentious thing that’s happened between New Orleans and Golden State.
Bonus: Play-In Losers
LA Clippers: There’s been so much turnover in the Clippers organization that there’s literally no one left on the roster from the Lob City team that was the Warriors’ rival, nor is there even anyone left from the team that lost 4-2 to them in the first round in 2019. For a player to truly draw the hatred of a fanbase, that team actually has to have a fanbase. The Clippers’ fan base is one guy: Billy Crystal. Maybe Klay once said disparaging things about Mr. Saturday Night.
Once again, the answer is Draymond Green, who once responded to Doc Rivers by saying “Cool story, Glenn” and selling t-shirts with that phrase. Also he didn’t pull any punches talking about Lob City.
“They have a cocky arrogance, like they’ve won something, and they haven’t done nothing. They pretty much been to the same spot in the playoffs we’ve been to. But they have this cockiness like you’re supposed to bow down to them. They ain’t proved nothing. They ain’t earned nothing. What respect have you earned?”
San Antonio: Zaza Pachulia. He’s a front office consultant for the Warriors, so there’s a decent chance he’d be in the building if anyone wanted to boo.