Clarke's zesty comments on Draymond add spice to Dubs-Grizzlies


There can be a lot of disrespect among artists in the world of hip-hop, some of it rooted in ageism. Youngsters on the come up, perhaps believing they are reinventing the game, don’t always exhibit due respect to the OGs. Beefs can follow.

Sports are not much different, particularly the NBA. The first thing many rookies want to do is make a name. That means going at a future Hall of Famer. Or reminding a vet that he “watched him on TV my whole life.” It can, in the proper context, be a compliment.

What Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, in his third NBA season, said about Warriors four-time All-Star Draymond Green, in his 10th year, was no compliment.

Though the Warriors on Sunday eked out 117-116 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Green and Clarke were a hot topic of conversation. As Clarke drove for a layup in the second quarter, Draymond swiped down, catching his face, and then clutched the youngster’s jersey as he fell to the floor. Officials deemed the act unnecessary and excessive, meeting the criteria for a Flagrant 2 foul and an automatic ejection. 

Seconds later, Green was waving goodbye to the Memphis crowd while skipping toward the locker room.

Draymond thought the Flagrant 2 call was an overreaction, another instance of prejudicial officiating against him. He has history with officials. He might be right. It’s debatable. A couple high-profile NBA stars, Damian Lillard and Trae Young, took to social media in Green’s defense, indicating the ejection was unjustified.

Clarke disagreed, implying Draymond was being predictably dirty.

“He’s been known for flagrant fouls all his career,” Clarke said. “I’ve watched him on TV my whole life, it feels like, so I wasn’t really shocked."

He said he watched the replay and realized Green hit him “pretty hard twice,” and denied that he was guilty of flopping.

“It’s just us coming out and playing our ball,” Clarke added. “I’m not really worried about it. It’s not shocking that he did that. It’s something he’s done in the past.”

There is, within those words, and that context, enough pepper to raise the spice level of the series already framed for confrontation. But Clarke wasn’t finished. He punctuated his remarks with a compliment shady enough that Draymond can appreciate the sideswipe.

“He’s a real good player, a real good player on defense,” Clarke said of Green. “There’s no need to do all that extra stuff.”

A young player hinting that a vet has to go outside the rules to compete is, in the NBA, a challenge. Man up! Play me straight! Or is your game so washed that you have to get tricky?

The Warriors are salty about the entire episode. They won the game, but they lost their emotional leader and the anchor of their defense. Moreover, they were incredulous that officials took the most extreme measure.

“We knew that was a tough break that didn't go our way and we were all kind of shocked by the decision,” coach Steve Kerr said.

“It was a tough call,” Stephen Curry said. “Obviously, on the road trying to start a series and you get a guy in Draymond headed to the locker room, nobody wants to see that. It's not good for the game. I didn’t think it deserved that, obviously.”

The Warriors were trailing, 54-53, with 1:18 remaining in the second quarter when Green was ejected. The Grizzlies pushed the lead to six over the final 78 seconds of the half.

A 13-5 run to open the third put the Warriors back on track. They led for most of the second half but had to hold off a Memphis rally in the fourth quarter.

They covered for Draymond, who, knowing his pride, probably feels he owes his teammates. Expect him to be in a lather for Game 2 on Tuesday. That might have happened no matter what Clarke said, but now it’s expected.

Clarke’s comments are spicy enough to instigate beef. Not necessarily nasty beef, but enough to raise the temperature between the OGs and those on the come up. Buckle up.

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