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The Mad Dog has found an alpha adversary in JJ Redick.
Chris Russo and Redick, who previously duked it out in a Chris Paul vs. Bob Cousy debate, clashed on ESPN’s “First Take” on Wednesday after the former NBA sharpshooter took umbrage with an exasperated Russo telling Warriors star Draymond Green to “shut up and play.”
The segment began with a clip of Green explaining that he was not sorry for flipping off Grizzlies fans Tuesday night. Green walked off the FedEx Forum court during the first half, heading toward the locker room after he was elbowed by Xavier Tillman. As he was getting booed vociferously, Green gave the road fans the double-finger salute.
“Boo somebody who gets elbowed in the eye and is bleeding, and you should get flipped off,” Green argued.
Green said he’d do an appearance to make up the likely oncoming fine money. He already makes $25 million a year so it hardly matters.
“He’s so hard to root for,” Russo commented. “Shut up and play. Will you please? America’s tired of Draymond Green. I deal with him constantly. Be quiet and play. We all know he has a great skill set for that team. I understand how good he is. I can’t root for him.”
Russo said that fans “who spend a thousand dollars to go these games” boo hurt players “all the time” – and they don’t “really mean anything by it.” Stephen A. Smith interjected that they were cheering Green’s injury, for which he needed stitches on his face, and Russo said that was the same principle.
“And then to tell us how much money he makes – pipe down!” Russo barked. “Whoop-dee-doo! You make $25 million a year!”
Redick said that he “wanted to take a little umbrage” with Russo telling Green to shut up and play.
“That has the same sort of connotations as the ‘Shut up and dribble’ crowd has toward athletes,” Redick said, referencing the time Fox News host Laura Ingraham said that about LeBron James.
“I have a problem with that. And specifically with Draymond, the idea that America is tired of him. You do realize that the man has a very popular podcast that he hosts and talks for the majority of the episode. People listen to that. He signed a talent deal with Turner because people want to hear what he has to say, because he’s real, authentic and unfiltered.”
Redick said the edge Green carries himself with is “what makes him great, what makes him a Hall of Famer.”
Russo said that there is a “large segment” of older fans, who have watched the league for 60-70 years, who do not want to hear from Green. He said it was not a “racial situation” — that these fans loved watching Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed and Walt “Clyde” Frazier.
“I’m not saying it’s a racial situation,” Redick said. “The fans you’re talking about, talk about athletes the way that you just did. The people on Fox News talk about them that way. That’s the issue. I don’t actually care about fans who watched Bob Cousy play, or Wilt play. I don’t care. I appreciate that they’ve been fans that long, but I don’t appreciate the undertone.”
Smith diffused the situation, saying he encounters a “whole bunch of Mad Dog Russos running around” who don’t appreciate the brashness of players like Green, but that he personally did not have a problem with anything Green said after the game.