OAKLAND – Draymond Green was in the midst of calmly explaining his defensive approach to Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis when, unable to help himself, he referred to the slight.
Slights, real or imagined, nourish Green’s competitive soul. They have made him an All-Star and an indispensible member of the Warriors.
And on Wednesday, Porzingis, looking forward to facing Green, had said just enough – it doesn’t take much – to get his opponents pulse racing.
“Just really try to be aggressive, try to crowd his space,” Green began after holding Porzingis to eight points on 4-of-13 shooting Thursday in a 103-90 win over New York. “He’s 7-3, so if you don’t crowd his space and try to do your work early, before he starts shooting the ball, your contest won’t matter. Every time he’d catch the ball, try to take his space away, try to make him uncomfortable.
“And tonight . . . my Nike rep, Adrian (Stelly), showed me something on the sideline, right before the game tipped off, that kind of pissed me off and made me want to go a little harder this game and guard him. It was good.
“I think I was in La-la land before he showed me that, and that just immediately pissed me off.”
Green didn’t repeat what Porzingis had said, but he didn’t have to. Comments the young forward made to New York reporters had been publicized by CSNBayArea.com, as well as several other news outlets.
Dominated last season by Green, Porzingis this time proclaimed himself “ready” for a rematch with Green.
“Last season, right after the game was over I was thinking when was the next time we were going to get a chance to play against them,” Porzingis had said.
“I’m ready for him.”
Well, no, he wasn’t. In three games against Green, Porzingis – despite a nine-inch height advantage – has a total of 16 points, on 8-of-32 shooting. That he was looking forward to facing Green is normal chatter for an athlete. Green took it as an insult.
“I like the passion,” Green said of Porzingis. “I like the dog that he has. I like that (he) wants to see me again.
“But keep that to yourself. Don’t let everybody know that you’re (coming) after me. So I guess we’re going to go after each other. That’s fine. I think he’s a great player. I think he’ll continue to get better and better. But that made it real personal for me.”
Nothing feeds Green like being targeted by an opponent. Even the slightest rumor of a dare is enough for him to set his watch, so he can get up in time to clean your clock.
Porzingis made a relatively innocuous comment, and Green used it to lock him up in public.