A banged up Miami Heat squad pulled out an improbable road win in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics Friday night, after which the Heat’s longest tenured player thanked an unlikely source for motivating the team — Golden State Warriors star forward Draymond Green.
As it turns out, Green made comments the evening prior, to which reputed Heat tough guy Udonis Haslem took offense. Lukas Weese of The Athletic took to Twitter Friday night to share Haslem’s thoughts on Green’s unwelcome commentary.
“Draymond Green said the Golden State Warriors were going to play the Boston Celtics [in the NBA Finals],” Weese wrote. “Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem just said, ‘Thank you for the inspiration.’ Game 7 on Sunday.”
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Green’s Comments Presented Out of Context Before Haslem’s Response
Professional athletes are literally some of the fiercest competitors in the world, so it is not surprising that a player like Haslem and a team like the Heat would look to find slights wherever possible so as to repurpose them into motivation.
While Green’s comments were not necessarily misrepresented to Haslem, they may have been offered up shy of at least some meaningful context.
The Warriors made short work of the Dallas Mavericks, completing the gentlemen’s sweep of Luka Doncic and company in five games (4-1) at Chase Center in San Francisco on Thursday night, May 26. After the victory, Green appeared on TNT’s postgame show where he was asked by co-host Shaquille O’Neal who he would like to see in the upcoming NBA Finals — the Heat or the Celtics.
The answer that followed would quickly become bulletin board material in the Miami locker room. Sean Grande, billed on Twitter as “the voice of the Boston Celtics,” shared a clip of the interaction Thursday night.
“I think both teams are tough. Boston has caused us problems, especially offensively. Their defense is incredible,” Green said. “You’re asking who I want to play, I’m gonna tell you who I think we’re gonna play. We’re gonna play Boston.”
Warriors, Celtics Have Some History From Regular Season
That Green will rescind his comments, go back on his opinion or be concerned in any way by Haslem’s reaction is borderline laughable. Green has proven time and again that he has zero qualms about speaking his mind publicly, whatever his opinions might be or whomever they may involve.
Haslem has been little more than a pseudo sort of player coach with the Heat for the last seven seasons. He has appeared in just 95 regular season games during that span, an average of just over 13.5 games per year, and has averaged more than eight minutes per appearance only once — in 2019-20 when he played in just four contests.
That said, the 41-year-old Haslem has been reputed as something of an enforcer throughout his entire 19-year NBA career, both while he was playing meaningful minutes and when he was not. That role extends to members of his own team, which was on display earlier this season when teammates had to hold Haslem back from a physical altercation with Miami star guard Jimmy Butler after the latter got into a heated argument with coach Eric Spoelstra on the sideline during a loss to, you guessed it, the Warriors.
Considering Haslem’s personal history and his unofficial position as czar of Heat culture, tensions between he and Green could boil over should Miami end up advancing to face the Dubs in the NBA Finals.
Ironically, however, there may actually be more of an issue if Golden State ends up playing Boston, as the Warriors and the Celtics have some history stretching back into the regular season. Namely, it was point guard Marcus Smart who sidelined Steph Curry for the remainder of the year while diving for a loose ball during a game on March 16.
Curry suffered a sprained ligament in his foot and missed the final 12 outings of the regular season. Green had returned just two days prior following a 30-game absence due to a back issue.
Regardless of who the Warriors wind up facing in their bid for a fourth NBA Championship in eight years, all of the participants’ blood is sure to be up and it is highly unlikely any of them will be suffering from a lack of motivation.
So get your popcorn ready because no matter who wins Game 7 between the Celtics and Heat on Sunday night, the NBA Finals will kick off at 6 p.m. West Coast time on Thursday in San Francisco.