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2017 NBA Playoffs

Warriors’ Draymond Green: ‘I’ve gotten the N-word, all of that’

All-Star forward said more protection is needed for players

Draymond Green said he isn’t surprised fans talk trash to him during NBA games, considering his emotional style of play. What does surprise the Golden State Warriors All-Star forward, however, is when it turns racial or when hecklers go overboard, as they have on occasion, calling him the “N-word” or other choice words.

“I’ve gotten the N-word, all of that. I’d rather not get into [where]. A few places, especially being that it is me. Athletes are just not protected in that regard. Maybe something like [the Adam Jones incident] will help,” Green told The Undefeated on Tuesday night before the Warriors’ 106-94 win over the Utah Jazz in the opener of their second-round playoff series.

Jones, the Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder, was called the N-word and had a bag of peanuts tossed at him during Monday night’s game against the host Boston Red Sox.

In hopes of bringing more attention to racism with their popular platform as NBA stars, Green and fellow Warriors All-Star teammate Stephen Curry are members of an advisory board for the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE).

Curry told The Undefeated there is still a lot of work to be done to fight racism.

“There has been progress, but people want to sweep stuff under the rug and turn a blind eye to what people go through every single day in terms of prejudice and racism. Obviously, there are plenty of groups, initiatives and people trying to attack the problem, RISE being one of them. As long as I have the platform I do, I plan to use it,” said Curry, who scored a game-high 22 points against Utah.

Founded by Miami Dolphins owner and Green’s mentor Stephen Ross, the nonprofit organization uses sports to improve race relations by driving social progress and understanding. RISE has a board of directors that includes NBA commissioner Adam Silver, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NCAA president Mark Emmert, PGA CEO Peter Bevacqua, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, ESPN Inc. president John Skipper and several other high-level sports executives.

RISE asks that new followers take a pledge: “Together we can RISE up for understanding, respect and equality. Take the pledge to show your commitment to ending racism. I pledge to treat everyone with respect and dignity. I will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. I will speak up whenever I know discrimination is happening and I will stand up for victims.”

Draymond Green (No. 23) of the Golden State Warriors goes up for a dunk against the Utah Jazz during Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2017 NBA playoffs on May 2 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Green did his part to raise awareness through RISE by wearing sneakers that read “SIDELINE RACISM” during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day game against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

“With racism, are you born with it or is it taught?” Green said. “That was the whole initial thought behind [RISE]. And honestly, I think you’re taught it. You’re not born a racist. … There is a huge need for it because of instances like [Jones’]. You just try to reach as many people and educate as many people as you can. Hopefully, you can make a difference.”

Curry, who was recruited to RISE by Green, said, “It’s keeping people woke and understanding that there is still an issue like we talked about with Adam Jones up in Boston.”

Green said part of the reason there are incidents such as the one Jones had in Boston is because sports leagues “empower hecklers” by not disciplining them strongly for disrespecting the players. The two-time NBA All-Star added that more protection is needed for the athletes and that they also receive hate from fans over their high salaries.

Green mentioned that Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 for confronting a fan during a game at Oklahoma City on April 21. Beverly accepted the fine, but he said the fan, Stuart Scaramucci, son of Thunder minority owner Jay Scaramucci, cussed at him with the “F-word.” Scaramucci was not ejected. Green also recalled when then-Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, now with the Boston Celtics, pushed a fan he exchanged words with in a game at Texas Tech in 2014.

“Cheer for your team. Do what you want. But if I’m playing in the game and you’re cheering for your team, it doesn’t give you the right to say whatever you want to say to me,” Green said. “This is my job, and I can’t go to your job and say whatever I want to you. If I went to someone else’s job and said whatever I wanted to say, I’d get arrested for harassment. It’s a fine line. I don’t think any league does a great job of making sure that athletes are protected.

“The fans are great, but at times I think the leagues empower hecklers to say whatever they want to us. We are in a position where if you naturally react, you’re screwed, you’re losing money. But there are great fans out there, and all fans shouldn’t be put in that category.”

Jones received a standing ovation from the Red Sox crowd before his first at-bat of Tuesday night’s game. Green has never met Jones but offered support.

“It’s unfortunate. I’d tell him to really try to keep the professionalism that he has. Hopefully, it will be dealt with. Just keep your head up and do what you do,” Green said.

Despite some of the racist taunts that Green has received, he said, he cannot imagine what Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson dealt with when he broke the color line as the first black player in the major leagues in 1947.

“No, not at all. There is a reason that there is a day [in Major League Baseball] that everyone wears 42,” Green said.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.