WASHINGTON — In June, the Golden State Warriors became just the second team in NBA history to clinch a title on the parquet floor of the TD Garden.
Now, seven months later, the Warriors are one day away from returning to Boston since that day.
“It was such a beautiful thing,” Draymond Green told ESPN. “It’s not something they hadn’t experienced before. So I think it’s great that they experienced it from us. With Steph Curry doing what Steph Curry does and the guy they chose to call the N-word. It was beautiful.”
On a podcast in November, Green said he was repeatedly called racist names throughout the three games that were played in Boston during that series against the Celtics. And for the first time in his career, despite usually thriving off trash-talk, Green admitted the environment in TD Garden was difficult to block out.
He scored just two points each in Games 3 and 4, netting a minus-13 and zero in those games, respectively.
“You usually have situations where people talk crazy, but not the entire arena,” Green told ESPN. “You’ll have a situation where an entire arena will boo you, but not what the Boston fans were doing. So, it was just a different situation than I had ever seen. It took a while to adjust to it … it was just so unexpected. It caught me off guard.”
Green said for the entire 48 minutes of the game — which truly lasts for about three hours — “f–k Draymond” chants, and names like “b—h” and the N-word rained down on him.
It took a few days for Green to wrap his head around what kind of environment he’d have to sit in to finish out the series and do it well.
“Whenever you know what to expect, you can plan for it. I’ve been around for 11 years so I thought I had seen it all. But that, I had never seen before,” Green told ESPN. “I guess with this, there was no real way to prepare for it. Except mentally know what you’re walking into. When that happens I can tune it out. But that first time I couldn’t tune it out.”
Green has always thrived off hostile environments. Take the Warriors’ game against the Washington Wizards on Monday night as an example.
Throughout the second half, Green had a continuous back-and-forth with two fans seated a row behind the scorer’s table in Capital One Arena.
According to Green, the fans told him, “You think you a Hall of Famer? I better not ever hear you say that again.”
But instead of riling Green up in a way that resulted in him getting a technical foul — he’s two techs shy of a one-game suspension — or having the two fans removed, Green said it was this interaction that fueled the Warriors’ late-game surge to win the game.
“I had nothing,” Green said. “I had nothing going. I couldn’t find it. Wasn’t about to find it. But shoutout to them. Two of them. They got me going.”
There’s an appreciation for that kind of harmless banter. However, earlier this season Green said a fan in Dallas continuously called him names, resulting in Green telling the fan to “sit down, shut up and watch the f—ing game,” subsequently getting a fined $25,000. In December, Green had a fan escorted out of the Warriors’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks after a fan allegedly threatened Green.
An added component Green has dealt with this season is the aftermath, and comments about, his altercation with Jordan Poole during training camp.
Since Green punched Poole, Green had heard comments shouted at him about it from the stands “all of the time.” But to his ears, that’s just more banter. It’s easy for him to tune out for himself.
“If someone brings that up, I’m more worried about Jordan than myself,” Green told ESPN. “I’m always hyper-alert because I want to see how that’s compounding in Jordan’s head. What actions do I need to take in that moment to make sure it doesn’t mentally affect him.”
Green expects to hear about it in Boston. To him, there is no topic Celtics fans consider off-limits.
But this time, he’s ready for it. And dare he say, a bit excited.
“I’ll greet them with a nice smile,” Green told ESPN. “Just as I did after we won the championship.”