Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels scuffled. Rudy Gobert grabbed Thompson. Draymond Green put Gobert in a headlock and dragged him down the court. Then Gobert fought back. At the microphone.
Gobert and Green, to put it kindly, do not enjoy one another’s company. Last year, Gobert took a shot at Green after Green punched Jordan Poole in practice, and Green waited six months until Gobert punched his own teammate to produce the receipts.
Insecurity is always loud.— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) October 7, 2022
Insecurity is always loud…— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) April 9, 2023
Last night, Gobert had a lot to say about the controversial Golden State Warriors forward. “I did whatever I could to keep my cool and then show that I wasn’t making the situation worse,” Gobert told reporters. “I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done because that’s just clown behavior.”
He also claimed that while he wasn’t close to being choked out, that was only because Green didn’t know how to choke.
“It was a long time, and if he knew how to choke it could have been way worse,” Gobert said, of the nine seconds Green had him in a sleeper hold. Gobert was very insistent that Green didn’t hurt him even though he “tried really hard,” could never hurt him, and he definitely was not mad.
But the Minnesota Timberwolves center clearly pays attention to Draymond, because he made calculated comments to push Green’s buttons. He used the word “clown” at least three times, a callback to what Green called Dillon Brooks last year during their own war of words.
The most devastating accusation came when Gobert claimed he knew Green would try to get ejected because Steph Curry was out with knee soreness.
“It’s kind of funny because before the game, I was telling myself that Steph is not playing, so I know Draymond is going to try and get ejected,” Gobert said. “Because every time Steph doesn’t play, he doesn’t want to play. He’ll do anything he can to get ejected.”
That one had to sting, even if it likely wasn’t accurate in this particular situation. There are certainly games where it looks like Green is trying to get kicked out, but this wasn’t one of them - until Gobert grabbed Thompson’s neck. Still, the games where Green seems bound and determined to draw an ejection happen often enough.
But what took it to the next level is Gobert poking what’s clearly a sore spot for Green - the idea that his greatness is dependent on Steph Curry. The comment that allegedly led to Green punching his teammate last year was Poole calling him “an expensive backpack to 30.”
(Note: The Poole comment, if true, is a masterful insult, both calling Green a coattail rider and making fun of his outside shot, which allegedly looks like he’s wearing a backpack when he takes a jump shot.)
Green won the “fight,” as it were, but Gobert won the press conference by TKO. Gobert also won by avoiding an ejection, winning the game on the Warriors’ home court, and not infecting anyone with a highly-contagious respiratory disease by intentionally touching all the microphones in the media room.
Here's Rudy Gobert on Monday touching all the microphones in the media room on purpose.— matt ashlock (@matt_ashlock) March 12, 2020
Here we are on Wednesday, and Rudy Gobert was just confirmed to have coronavirus, causing the NBA to suspend the season.
It’s hard to begrudge Gobert his postgame sniping because Green made fun of him for crying after not making the All-Star team in 2019 - and continuing to make fun of him about three years later.
I guess I should cry too... no Charlotte?— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) February 1, 2019
It’s hard to fault Green for jumping in to protect his teammate here. Referees determined that Gobert was acting as a peacemaker in the McDaniels-Thompson dust-up, but generally NBA players grab their own teammates, not an opponent’s neck. It is much easier to fault Green for dragging Gobert down the court, even if Gobert’s insistence that he was totally fine might hurt his chances of getting Green a lengthy suspension.
But the worst thing Green did was put Gobert in a position where he had the moral high ground. A man who punched his own teammate during a game and got suspended from a play-in game - which his team lost in overtime - now gets to be the voice of calm and reason. That’s going to bother Green more than any insults or lost games - he made Rudy Gobert, a man who is notoriously disliked as much as any NBA player by his peers, sympathetic.
The weird Rudy Gobert thing is that everyone he works with who ISN’T an NBA player absolutely adores him. Team staff, trainers, ball boys, arena workers, media/PR, you name it.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) May 12, 2022
And yet… among NBA players, there might not be a more frequently disrespected/disliked fellow player. https://t.co/LOjMBaN64I
(To be fair, Gobert has been very generous to team personnel and arena workers over the years - he just really annoys other players.)
There’s only one way to quash this beef. These two players need to go on a podcast together. Only then will the healing start.