OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Draymond Green’s remarkable postseason has pushed beyond basketball, featuring Charles Barkley declaring he’d like to punch the emotional Golden State forward, a death threat from a frustrated fan that Green encouraged to get the help he needs, and an attempt by the All-Star to listen in on the Pelicans huddle.
Oh, and it just so happens Green also became the first Warriors player to ever average a triple-double in a postseason series.
“He’s just incredibly engaged and locked in. This is the best I’ve seen him play all year,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Draymond has to play hard to do what he does. I think the playoffs have energized him.”
Green is at his best on the big stage and playing just on the edge — pushing boundaries by being just physical enough without crossing the line, dishing out just enough trash talk, though others may beg to differ.
Just as Barkley did.
Green flaps his mouth with the best of them in what many might consider over-the-top gamesmanship, engaging with Rajon Rondo — Green praised his opponent afterward — in what became a testy matchup during the Warriors’ five-game series win against the Pelicans. He tangled with Anthony Davis, too.
Green’s big personality prompted TNT analyst Barkley to go off and declare, “I want to punch him in the face, I really do.”
No biggie, Green just fired back.
“He’s seen me a million times. If he feels that strongly about it then punch me in my face when you see me,” Green said. “If you’re not going to punch me in my face when you see me then shut up. It’s no different than somebody sitting behind a computer screen tweeting, ‘I’ll knock you out,’ and you never see them in life. Well he’s seen me a bunch of times and he’ll see me again this year. Punch me in the face or if not, no one cares what you would have done. You’re old and it is what it is.”
Barkley later apologized and called his comments inappropriate.
Green is in the middle of everything for the defending champion Warriors, and that’s right where they want him as they try for a repeat title.
Next up is a date with James Harden, Chris Paul and the top-seeded Houston Rockets.
“I live for playoff basketball,” Green said. “It’s the most fun time of the year for me, but just, you know, locking in and focusing.”
Tensions will certainly be high in these long-anticipated Western Conference Finals. Everybody who plays with Green loves him, and those who have to face him rarely enjoy themselves. He’s a menace on both ends, blocking shots, pounding the boards, flying out of bounds to save loose balls, celebrating with a roar or flex of his biceps.
“Like I’ve said to you guys time and time again, he can basically play all the positions on the floor,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “That’s what makes it really difficult to play against them, just the versatility that those guys have.”
Against New Orleans, Green averaged 14.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists. The Warriors are 26-0 overall in games where Green has a triple-double, 4-0 in the playoffs.
In the final two games of the first round against San Antonio, he had 18 rebounds then a playoff career-high 19 boards, then another 15 in Game 1 against the Pelicans with a triple-double. He was one rebound shy of another triple-double in Game 2 and short by one assist in the 113-104 Game 5 clincher Tuesday night.
“I guess that’s great to be the first person in the history of a franchise to do something, but nonetheless, you don’t get triple-doubles by yourself,” Green said. “You don’t get rebounds by yourself. You need everyone else boxing out on the court. I don’t score points by myself. I’ve got great teammates that find me and give me great shots, and I don’t make the baskets on the pass that I deliver to them.
“So I don’t get fooled into thinking, ‘Oh, I averaged a triple-double in the series because of me.’”
Green hardly could have expected his fiery style to bring on a death threat, and he brushed it off with little concern. The Warriors increased their security, even if comedian Andrew Polk apologized for his social media post saying Green should be shot.
Green has swiftly moved forward.
After being told that Kerr called veteran Andre Iguodala the “baby sitter” on the floor, Green had fun with it: “I need a baby sitter.”
And he hardly considered standing next to the Pelicans’ huddle any kind of infraction. Official Josh Tiven told Green to move.
“I said, ‘Hey that ain’t no huddle, I’m just standing over here like they standing over here,’” Green said. “It was fun. They was watching something of us. It was pretty good.”
Green finished the night with 19 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocked shots. About his usual.
The Warriors want him to continue doing his thing, his way.
“Nothing surprises me but always just kind of impressed and you don’t want to take a talent like that for granted, what he brings every single night,” teammate Stephen Curry said. “It’s fun to watch, the intensity he plays with and timely plays on both ends of the floor, it’s what a gamer does and that’s what he’s been his whole career. Earlier in his career, never, rarely showed up in the stats sheet like his stuff is there right now — right now, it’s the whole package, and it’s amazing.”