OAKLAND— Draymond Green is a two-time NBA All-Star and an All-NBA trash talker who knows how to get under just about anybody’s skin with a few choice words—including the Cavaliers.
“Everybody’s susceptible to that,” said Green. “I don’t care who you are.”
But even with a roster full of guys who don’t come close to Green’s track record of trash-talking, the Cavs want him to know before Game 1 of the NBA FInals that it goes both ways.
“When you say everybody that includes yourself,” Cavs forward Richard Jefferson said. “Last year, we were the most poised team, so the fact we want to talk about getting under people’s skin, who can be trash-talked and this, we didn’t have any players get ejected or any players get suspended.”
Leave it to the 15-year veteran to sub Green as players from the Cavs and Warriors answered questions at Oracle Arena on the eve of the Finals. Some 28 hours before the two teams meet for a third straight year in the best-of-seven series, Green’s penchant for stirring it up verbally on-and-off the court was a topic of conversation.
IF YOU GET THE RIGHT PERSON AND GET UNDER THEIR SKIN A LITTLE BIT, THERE GOES THE GAME.
With the retirements of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, Green has widely assumed the role of the league’s best trash talker. “I think Draymond probably says the most. But does that make him the best?” said Cavs guard Kyle Korver. Does being a known irritant that has never been afraid to say whatever is on his mind—or apparently cross the line—gives the Warriors an edge in the gamesmanship battle?
“If you get the right person and get under their skin a little bit, that five or six, seven-minute span, and there goes the game,” Cavs forward Derrick Williams said.
The Cavs want Green to bring his trash-talking A game and said they aren’t afraid to yap back. None of the Eastern Conference champs would offer up who their best trash talker is. “We’ve got a bench full of guys that love to be chirping,” said Korver. But after 18 meetings over the past three seasons with Green—it would have been 19 had Green not been suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals—the Cavs know what to expect. And how to counter.
“He’s the only one who does trash-talking like that,” Cavs center Tristan Thompson said. “We just hoop. Lot of guys in our league in the past, guys like K.G., they trash talk and get under guys’ skin and some guys get affected.”
So what’s the typical trash talk like between the Cavs and Warriors?
“Anything can really get said. Are there times when guys take it too far? Yeah,” Cavs forward Iman Shumpert said.
IF THAT’S GOING TO GIVE HIM AN ADVANTAGE, THAT’S WHAT HE WANT TO DO? COOL. I GET IT.
“Yeah,” Shumpert said. “I mean I don’t think anybody in this league probably hasn’t. He’s not trying to do it because he’s just a terrible human being. He want to win. If that’s going to give him an advantage, that’s what he want to do? Cool. I get it.”
Shumpert, for one, likes trash-talking and wishes the NBA would allow guys to taunt each other without fear of earning a technical. But when the words start flying, know the players aren’t pulling out a bunch of lines they practiced on the team bus.
“Everything is more organic than people think,” Shumpert said. “We don’t go out there thinking of lines to say to somebody. You get the momentum of the game going and you see this as a way to step on their throat a little bit more, so you throw something out there. It’s part of the game.”
And potentially a big factor. The right comment at the right moment can derail a game and, in this case, potentially a series if somebody can’t take a dig. The Cavs know Green will say something wild at some point. Either they give it right back or follow the lead of the world’s best player.
“I remember Kobe said he tried to trash talk LeBron every single time and Bron just never paid attention,” Jefferson said.