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Abe Beame is cool with Fat Joe acting as the Knicks’ new ambassador, but also wants you to know the guy has lived in Florida for like 20 years running now.
There’s a fight fan of a certain age, who grew up worshipping the likes of Tito Trinidad and Bernard Hopkins, and just kind of missed the boat on MMA in general, that has been starved and left out in the cold by Jake Paul’s social media influencer fight clubs. We miss the heyday of the Saturday night PPVs in Vegas, the thrill of Puff getting blood on his white suit in the front row, the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, the shifty promoters and dubious decisions. I feel like pure shit and just want it back, like now.
Well, there were no actual punches thrown, and no belts at stake, but on Tuesday we were all invited to watch two heavyweight combatants enter the squared circle. They are seasoned masters of their crafts, intense competitors who push past all the common and reasonable codes of restraint and decency, even when they probably should adhere to them. Basketball? No friends, these two are decent at their actual professions, but they are masters, Gods among men in the sport of the passive aggressive pull quote, the snippy interview, the quote Tweet response. They are Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, world class shit talkers.
In one corner, hailing from Prince George’s County in the DMV, we have Kevin Wayne Durant. A 6’10 *ahem*, 240 pound *AHEM* beanpole who either wasn’t hugged enough or hugged far too often by his mother as a child. He wields a devastating subliminal jab, and over the course of his stunning fourteen year career as an oversensitive asshole has literally never been happy with the framing of a single question. A truly formidable competitor.
In the other corner, Draymond Jamal Green Sr., born and raised somewhere called Saginaw Michigan, is listed at 6’6 but is actually probably like 6’4, (I can attest he comes up roughly to Kristaps Porzingis’ nipple. So, however tall that is) and weighs in at 230 *AHEM*. Green is a rhetorical Southpaw, a master of timing, keeping his opponent off balance with naked vulnerability and a fearlessness of opinion that borders on recklessness, but he can salvage even the worst feint with an absolutely devastating truth to power haymaker.
The two men last crossed swords on KD’s podcast, the ETCs (?), where some guy named Eddie did a mind boggling amount of the talking, but their first face off was in Golden State, as teammates, when KD was mad Dray didn’t pass him the ball, and Dray responded by dousing Durant in Kerosene, setting him on fire, and pissing on his smoldering corpse. The media, and the two players, have allowed it to define the end of KD’s stretch as a Warrior, and their relationship as epic frenemies.
For the third and decisive third match they met on Green’s “home turf”, a Bleacher Report podcast that I guess every player in the NBA is going to have one of by 2025 (It’s called…….Chips, which is a decent concept but an incredibly dumb name). Here’s my tale of the tape:
0:47: Dray opens with some slow pitch, “Oh hey Kev, what about one of your first coaches?” If you watch closely, he’s asking the question out of the side of a smirk and I can officially report a production assistant at the taping told me he was doing the jerk off hand gesture as KD was talking. Pure alpha shit.
1:24: KD is rocking an Oakland Athletics hat. What’s the message here? A tribute to where he played? A subliminal underlining how bogus it was that the Warriors sold out their home base to move across the bay? Could either be kowtowing (bad) or Machiavellian (good-ish), or both?
1:49: “And then you went to high school, and you went to several different high schools”. Man this guy is so fucking good. The little cutting remarks, the insinuations, the applied emphasis. Suggesting that KD is the rootless wandering pilgrim, with no home base and no loyalties. It’s an aspect woven into his history, into his DNA. It’s a dumb question that goes nowhere, but he’s already working the body, getting in KD’s head. A savage.
2:13: Oh man, he hit him with the classic Trump “Many People Are Saying” to draw the link explicitly in case anyone at home wasn’t connecting the dots. A wild early shot across the bow.
2:27: “In my opinion Texas is a football school.” Man…shit all over his alma mater, subtly reminding us Dray was a four-year Michigan State standout, winning scores of accolades and that he’s a winner that sticks. KD weakly responds by saying there were other good players on the team and the city was cool, essentially his logic for jumping ship from OKC. It’s getting late early, folks.
3:07: Draymond basically calls KD a bitch here, this is an actual knockdown. “You never played the 4 in your life, till you came to Golden State, really.” He’s accusing the lanky, soft spoken kid of playing out of position because he couldn’t take the physical contact down low. KD’s response: “I played a little bit in college, because I couldn’t handle the ball that well.” Ring the bell, for the love of God. Dray has the high ground.
3:47: A stunning counter shot from KD! In an attempt to be self-deprecating, and kind of poking the bear once again, continuing the conversation about KD playing out of position:
Dray: So you callin me a stiff?
KD: I mean, nah, you’re no stiff dog. And you not even big bro, you like, 6’6. You play bigger than what you really are.
KD’s strategy begins to emerge here, that he’s the superior player with superior skill and mobility, while Draymond is a schleper who lumbers around, making up for his talent deficit by being as obnoxious on and off the court as humanly possible. A daring approach, we’ll see how it plays out.
4:27: “I remember, reading a statement where you said: “I’m tired of being a number two. I was the number two pick, I was the number two player in the country, where was that coming from, like why did you feel that.” Brutal. It’s a pull quote from a Lee Jenkins’ SI piece from 2013, coming right on the heels of falling to the Heat in the Finals. Dray is calling out KD’s inferiority complex, his need to make decisions to serve his ego, his self-sabotaging mechanism. Why he left the Thunder, and eventually, why he left the Warriors. I can only assume Draymond Green has both Woodward and Bernstein working research for these interviews. This is Isaac Chotiner, this is David Frost. This guy is going to win a Peabody on TNT.
4:50: Can someone better at the internet than I am please turn Dray’s reaction face here into a gif? Can Spielberg cast Dray in his next film?
6:39: “But in my opinion, after year two? You were over it. You were done with it, and you were on to the next thing. But we had the opportunity to three peat, and in my mind, what brought you back to Golden State in year three, was just the opportunity to three-peat. But it didn’t feel right for you no more.” So Dray is setting up something he’s going to drive home shortly, real 12-dimensional chess being played here, calling out Durant for quitting on the team and being checked out. But also, for sniffing a ring and being an opportunist, using the team to attempt to buttress his own legacy. Again, guys, I must emphasize this, Draymond Green is smarter than we are.
7:30: This is a massacre. It’s the unforced errors. KD responds by saying what held him back as a basketball player was undefined roles, clipping his own wings and basically calling himself a dollar store windup toy. I need a drink.
8:13: *Glass of wine later* Another wardrobe aside: KD is wearing olive paisley highwater sweats, a vintage print t-shirt I can’t identify, but I’m guessing is like a Givenchy collab or something, some printed calf hugging socks, and what I believe are low Travis Scott Air Jordan 1s. Dray is wearing a beige shirt, black shorts, and a pair of low somethings that resemble skate shoes with no socks. I’ve never actually sat down and watched the first televised presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon, where Kennedy won the presidency off the visuals alone, but now I don’t need to.
9:00: Some grappling. Here’s the big takeaway headline from the interview, and KD’s real opportunity to draw blood that he of course leaves in his corner. Dray asks how their argument affected KD’s decision, and he decides to blame management??! Let’s just consider this for a moment. Durant was leaving. We knew what city he was heading to, if not the borough. It was common knowledge. As a result of a silly on court spat, Dray simply voices the things his camp had been leaking, and we were all thinking and had been saying all season. And now KD and Dray (complicit in this as well) corroborate to agree that if Bob Myers and Steve Kerr had simply, I don’t know, taken the two of them kayaking or some shit, KD would still be a Warrior? Shut the fuck up. I’m going to give this to Durant on points because he doesn’t have to, you know, be coached by Kerr anymore, and in October Dray will be. But somehow I think Kerr and Myers will see this for the patronizing bullshit it is, and not give a fuck.
11:30: No idea why, because this is about as congenial as the interview gets, but KD looks like he’s about to cry.
11:46: The laugh/exhale from Durant here, when Dray describes his intensity and the CHIP on his shoulder, is priceless. Frame it.
12:54: “But the person who went too far was always Draymond Green, to the point where I felt that you were trying to establish that you were not playing around. You not gonna walk over me even though I was a second round pick and I’m undersized and I’m not as skilled as y’all want me to be, or I don’t play the way y’all traditionally like a player my size to play. I felt the same way about Russell Westbrook because of his story…. Now I see why, they show they ego, they show the pride that they have, they show the chip that they have on they shoulder because it is hard as shit to make it everyday. But you pushed it to a limit where it’s like, it’s cool to be who I am, and not apologize for it all the time.”
KD finally punches back, and drops a hammer! He basically tells Draymond he sucks and it’s all effort, then compares him to his old hated teammate. It’s classic, gorgeous, catty Durant. In KD’s telling, Dray was an underprivileged hustler who had to scrap for every minute he ever played, a grinder whose CHIP is both his blessing and his curse. Also calls him an asshole. Chef’s kiss KD.
14:58: “But over the course of the years, your answers, how you deal with the media has changed, why is that? Is that just who you grew into? Is that just because of the way they act with certain shit, why is that?” Kind of a weak jab by Draymond, feels like he’s baiting a trap, showing his left and appearing to open himself up by Durant attempting to get Durant to take the bait and dig a deeper hole. He’s also calling him a temperamental, whiny bitch. Durant is smart enough to not really take the bait, just calls himself a genius. A wash.
16:03: Fuck. Draymond is so good. Can we skip TNT and send him straight to 60 Minutes? He’s asking Durant about his Twitter burner, so making fun of him on Front Street, but he manages to frame it in a way that allows him to later explain his intention was to let Durant know “He’s keeping it real, NOW.” I mean who is writing this guy’s questions? Alice Munro? Raymond Carver? Lorrie Moore? Ernest Hemingway? The snub nosed genius, the economy of word, the acid dipped in empathy. Whoever it is, they’re not being paid nearly enough, especially if it’s Dray himself.
16:38: This YouTube video has the different subjects blocked off with titles. I just noticed this one is called “KD’s Twitter fingers and burner accounts”. So sorry to anyone invested in this piece. I have died. Artificial Intelligence has scanned through thousands of words I have written and is finishing this for me, in my voice.
16:49: “A lot of people enjoyed seeing y’all lose in 2016.” DURANT SWINGING WILDLY FROM HIS HEELS.
18:09: “In my opinion, the (2021) Finals does not compare to Warriors-Cavs, even Warriors-Raptors. Do you have any regrets about that knowing that, we probably would’ve won five more championships.” GREEN WITH A SAVAGE LEFT. Calling Durant short sighted and selfish, a player that “doesn’t care” about winning. Durant’s response is appropriately unconvincing. He blames his lack of a ring this year on Brooklyn’s health issues.
19:03: Kyrie is out here catching STRAYS. A fucking headshot. You love to see it.
20:29: So, here’s where a lot of the offline, old school Brooklyn basketball coach guys (the dudes who think Taj Gibson doesn’t get enough playing time) I’m friends with think the real blood was drawn. I probably shouldn’t write this, but there’s a theory floating around in Flatbush that with the “kid” line of questioning, Draymond is- (Redacted, feel free to apply for a FOIA Request in 30 years.)
(Side note: Watch Durant’s face in this clip, and tell me he deadass doesn’t look like someone preparing to get snuffed.)
23:20: Once again, a masterclass. Green gets to the heart of what everyone has always wondered and speculated about when it comes to Durant: “What do you want? What makes you happy?” And of course Durant is out here ducking rain drops, falling into the carefully laid trap by spitting emo third grade poetry Sanskrit. I just…. I’ve never seen anything like this. My kids will not be attending college because I absolutely have to be sitting front row, center court when the Nets host the Warriors this season.
23:51: Even the handshake feels like an Avon and String on the balcony moment. I also just need to give a quick shoutout to the editor of this, because there’s no chance any human being could be as bad in conversation as Durant was here. You have to work, to have a true eye to clip something so utterly damaging. I just checked the credits, and it actually turns out Walter Murch cut it, which makes sense. This is pure cinema.
Final Thoughts: I mean, obviously, 12-0, assuming there’s no such thing as a knock out in an interview. Draymond completely washed Durant. This was a fucking ambush/massacre. One of the all time great media hits. A fucking assassination. A star is born. And that star is the God, Draymond Green. Congrats champ.