You might’ve caught last night’s replay of Golden State’s Draymond Green mugging Houston’s Patrick Beverly, the latter prevented from sinking a record-breaking 24th Rockets 3-pointer and presumably, maintaining some semblance of pride for the visitors. Mark Jackson and Kevin McHale exchanged words after the buzzer, with the former telling reporters afterwards, “”I was an old-school basketball player. I’m an old-school coach. If you can’t appreciate that, that’s on you.”
This is probably the first and last time Jackson’s grandstanding antics have been characterized as “old school”, and if the Golden State head coach is short on memory, he’ll see no reminders from the San Jose Mercury News’ Adam Laurdisen.
After so many years of watching the Warriors simply roll over and play dead in blowouts or — worse yet — immediately yuk it up with opponents when the buzzer sounded, it was jarring to see a disrespected Warriors player strike back. The cost of Green’s message was a Flagrant II foul, but in a game long decided, the statement was more important than ejection. When losing is no longer the status quo, a loss like this one becomes uncomfortable. The Beverly dunk and celebration could only be taken as disrespectful because this Warriors team now has a collective self-respect for its own abilities.
When the fervor died down from the Green foul, it was Mark Jackson’s turn to send a message. Instead of letting the Rockets stage a shoot-around in the final seconds with the Warriors’ defenders as unwilling extras, Jackson ordered the team to intentionally foul players. By denying the Rockets three point opportunities, Jackson ensured that the NBA three point record would not be broken on the Warriors’ watch. It was a brief strategic move, but sent the same loud message as Green’s foul: the Warriors are not going to be passive spectators while the Rockets chase history.
“The Warriors took exception to the Rockets’ end-of-game behavior,” argued Laurdisen, “because the Warriors expect to be treated as equals.” There’s just one problem ; if you’re being blown out by 30 points, you’re not equal. While Jackson earns plaudits for teaching his players not to play patsy, perhaps they could’ve taken exception to the humiliation before the 47 minute, 30 second mark? Sending a message with a hard foul sounds tough, but can you really hold your head high after allowing 140 points?