BOSTON – American sports fans chanting that an opposing player “sucks” is commonplace, but even that wasn’t enough for Boston Celtics fans as they expressed their disdain for outspoken and physical Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
“F— you, Draymond! … F— you, Draymond!”
That is precisely what Celtics fans chanted at Green during Boston’s 116-100 victory over Golden State in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“We’ve played in front of rude people before. Dropping F-bombs with children in the crowd. Real classy. Good job, Boston,” Warriors forward Klay Thompson said afterward.
Said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr facetiously: “Classy. Very classy.”
One of those children in the crowd was Green’s son, Draymond “D.J.” Green Jr.
D.J. joined Green at the postgame news conference and did what kids do – hid under the table, danced around while holding his father’s hand. Draymond Green had to field a lot of questions because he scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting, didn’t attempt a free throw, grabbed four rebounds and dished four assists while also fouling out in 35 minutes.
And when the dust settled on his forgettable night, Green was much more upset at himself and a reporter who questioned the X’s and O’s he talks about on the Draymond Green Podcast than the Celtics fans cursing at him in front of D.J.
“That’s a part of it. He’s here. He has to know what’s up,” Draymond Green said of his son. “It is what it is. It’s all a part of it. If it bothered me, I wouldn’t bring him. But he has to know, because he may be in this position one day. And if so, I’m going to sit right in the stands and watch him. And I’m going to say, ‘F— them’ back.”
While Green took the taunts in stride, his wife Hazel felt otherwise, posting a statement on Instagram that said in part: “Tough loss tonight BUT in NO WAY, shape or form should fans be allowed to chant obscenities at player! Are they not human? … Very disgusting of you little Celtics fans. Just shameful!”
But Draymond Green also said that he brought the ire of the Celtics fans on himself.
Green’s physicality and trash-talking in the Warriors’ Game 2 victory got under the skin of several Celtics players, most notably forward Grant Williams. It even caused usually mild-mannered Celtics head coach Ime Udoka to get a technical foul in Game 2. In Game 3, the anti-Draymond chats started from the tip. There were actually two different “F— you, Draymond” chants going on at the same time at one point, while some fans also wore “Draymond is a b—-” T-shirts. The green-clad Celtics crowd roared loudest when he fouled out with 4:07 left.
In the Celtics’ previous two appearances in the NBA Finals, their fans have had notable incidents. In 2010, Boston’s crowd chanted “ugly sister” at Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who was dating Khloe Kardashian. And in 2008, fans threw rocks at the Lakers’ bus and pushed it back and forth when they attempted to depart the arena after losing the series.
“They are just talking. Not really my job to react to them. They did what I expected,” Green said calmly of the fans on Wednesday night.
What Green didn’t expect was to play that poorly. It was the first time in his career that he started a playoff game and finished with less than 10 combined points, rebounds, and assists. The timing was certainly bad for the Warriors, who now enter Game 4 on the road in a potential must-win situation on Friday.
Green promises to live up to the moment next time.
“I have to come out and play with more force,” Green said. “It’s the same adjustment in an NBA Finals game. They didn’t do anything that surprises us. We’re not going to do anything that surprises them. We just got to play with more force.”
Green is known for his quick temper and perhaps an even quicker wit. A day earlier, he gave credit to the great playground basketball trash-talkers in his hometown for helping him develop such a jarring tongue.
“I’m from Saginaw, Michigan,” Green said. “There are a lot rougher things that goes on in my life than fans yelling. It is what it is. They ain’t yelling at nobody who doesn’t matter. They must know what the world knows.”
Green also usually never backs down from trash talk, whether it’s his opponents, coaches or even referees like Courtney Kirkland, who engaged in a stare-down with Green in Game 3. But somehow, some way, he didn’t bark back at the Celtics fans.
The real reason is Green believes he is winning the mental game with the opposing fans fixated on him.
“Because you’re in their head,” Green said. “It’s all how you look at it. They’re going to spend all their time focused on me, then clearly, you’re living rent-free in their head. It’s all in their head.”
Green also said that he has dealt with worse than the Celtics fans in the past.
Without offering details, Green said the crowd that was toughest on him were Cleveland Cavaliers fans in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. The Warriors played against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018. Cleveland fans also booed Green and Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.
“I really don’t pay attention to what they say,” Green said. “But the loudness of it … I haven’t heard it louder than in Cleveland …
“Cleveland was way louder and [the fans] also say something. Cleveland people are more reckless and ruthless.”
Even if Celtics fans step up their vulgar game, Green says he will be ready.
“They are not wasting their time with anybody. And I will feed off of them Friday,” Green said.
Said Kerr: “He had a tough game, but I trust Draymond as much as I trust anybody. He always bounces back from losses and from tough nights individually. He’ll be back on Friday.”