Ranking NBA players' takes on Draymond's best defender claim


The only thing more predictable than Draymond Green saying he's the greatest defender in NBA history was the reaction it spawned.We all know the five-time NBA All-Defensive player is one of the most outspoken -- and outspokenly confident -- stars in the NBA, but we also know that legacy questions are asked, answered and debated in barbershops, comment sections and across sports-talk programming on radio, television and at least a few of the streaming services with "plus" in the name.With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to rank the reactions from the 2016-17 NBA Defensive Player of the Year's predecessors in the league, many of whom were, uh, let's just say vocal in expressing their opposition to his claims. Here, then, are five reactions from longtime NBA veterans, ranked from worst to best.

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NBA seasons: 14
NBA All-Defensive teams: Zero
NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards: Zero*
The Take: "First of all, this is the problem I have with Draymond, right? If you feel that way, it's OK to feel that way, but let someone else tweet that about you. Let someone else give you those flowers. You don't give yourself those flowers. That's the first thing. Second of all, there's a lot of other defenders that I could go across the league -- like Ben Wallace, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett, [Dikembe] Mutumbo -- that I feel like was better than Draymond Green." --Kendrick Perkins on "The Jump" on March 23

Perkins' take checks so many boxes that it feels like it was made-to-order in a Hot Take laboratory of some kind.

Criticizing a player for having confidence? Check. References to players of previous eras? You bet. Vague allusions to social-media use? Absolutely.

Perkins has brought an interesting perspective as an analyst since the end of his playing career, and he doesn't take himself too seriously. But this take doesn't have the same pizazz as some of his greatest hits, and this isn't even the most interesting thing he has said about Green.

*Perkins joked Tuesday on "The Jump" he should've won the award over Kevin Garnett in 2007-08.


NBA seasons: 14
NBA All-Defensive teams: Six
NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards: Zero
The Take: "BIG [cap emoji]!!! Who stamped you? Who you clamp!?

In the words of Jay Z! 'We don’t believe u, u need more people!' " --Tony Allen on Twitter, March 23

Allen deserves credit for clarifying Wednesday on 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Roast" that this was more of a "hehe and haha" situation than an actual beef. We like our athletes to be self-aware and self-deprecating.

Still, Allen's initial tweet could've fooled us, since his hilarious back-and-forth with Green kind of read dangerously close to a "Meet me in Temecula" rather than "Spider-Men pointing."

It's good to know Green and Allen won't meet somewhere in Southern California on, like, Memorial Day to defend their defensive legacies, though.


NBA seasons: 15
NBA All-Defensive teams: Zero
NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards: Zero
The Take: "The beauty of Draymond is he doesn't care. Like, 'Go ahead, make your list [of better defenders].' I learned a lot about Draymond my first couple of years coaching him, and one of the things I learned about him is that he has so much belief in himself, and one of the reasons he's made it this far and done as well as he's done is because that belief is unflinching. And if he makes you uncomfortable with something he says, that only fuels his fire. That's part of who he is. He wants to convince himself that he's the greatest defender of all time, and that fuels him, so he says that." --Steve Kerr on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky," March 24

Kerr's comments would top the list of the most insightful things said about Draymond Green. Heck, Kerr could save himself a lot of time if he just uses this if/when Green is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

This gets at the essence of Green in a way that only someone who has spent hours every day over a number of years together can say, but it doesn't top this list. There's not a bit too much nuance in the nuance-to-spice ratio for our liking.

Maybe Kerr should write Green's biography when the latter's career is all said and done. 


NBA seasons: 15
NBA All-Defensive teams: Zero
NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards: Zero
The Take: "It's no way to say ever. That's just crazy, and whoever agrees with him -- whoever agrees with him on ever, you don't know basketball. And, Draymond should say what he says. Two things can be right. If I'm Draymond, I totally agree. ... He got heart, he's been doing it since college. He got a triple-double without scoring. He's the man defensively. He'll shut everybody down. But I just like reminding people some names: Bill Russell. Like, I feel like I should get a big glove with some baby powder and smack everybody in the world and say, 'You ain't say Bill Russell?' Kobe. OK? KG. KG's a 7-footer checking ones, twos and threes. Now Draymond is the man, I just -- let's all have a great conversation." -- Chris Webber on TNT's "Inside The NBA," March 23

Now this is balancing nuance and spice. Webber penned a take odyssey Tuesday night on Turner Sports' set, weaving in some vivid imagery -- this author wants no part of getting smacked by Chris Webber -- while giving Green his due and questioning his assertion.

This was acrobatic walking of the Take Tightrope at its finest, neither being too ridiculous nor too reasonable. Add a pinch of some "I'm just asking questions" mischief on top, and you have a take that's fit for viral consumption.

Unlike Perkins, Webber's doesn't feel calculated. It doesn't quite set the standard for this list, though.


NBA seasons: 17
NBA All-Defensive teams: Four
NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards: One (2003-04)
The Take: "But real talk: Draymond saying he the best defender, that brought so much light to defense, and anybody that's a real defender know what I'm talking about. All we gotta hear -- we gotta see 'Come Fly with Me' Michael Jordan, we gotta see LeBron James dunking on Jason Terry -- even though LeBron's a great defender and Michael's a great defender also. But all we see: Offense, offense, offense. What about the defensive side? It's a beauty. It's a work of art. It's like the sweet science, locking someone up. And that's why I love this topic. Finally, we talkin' defense! Who wants to hear offense all the time? I shut down offensive players. I don't wanna see offense all the time. It's easy. Some of the guys did well, but we shut 'em down. We shut 'em down, alright? Let's talk about some defense. So Draymond, keep it going, please. Like, keep this going because this is what I wanna hear, and this is what I wanna talk about. Come on! Keep it up!" -- Metta Sandiford-Artest on Twitter, March 24

The glee with which Metta Sandiford-Artest delivers his pro-defense magnum opus is palpable and contagious. How can you watch this and not have a smile on your face?

Sandiford-Artest is the owner of what is perhaps the greatest series of postgame interviews after he won Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he seems just as excited to see and hear people debating the game's all-time defenders. This is the moment in discourse that he was waiting for, so of course he's going to chime in with a five-part video series, all recorded while he was on an evening walk.

His passion and lack of self-seriousness put Sandiford-Artest over the top. Sports are supposed to be fun, and so is talking and writing about them. Passion about these conversations is great, but that doesn't mean we have to take them so damn seriously.

Sandiford-Artest's take was a breath of fresh air. Here's hoping for more like it.

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