BOSTON — A code of conduct message was briefly displayed on the Jumbotron a few times per game at TD Garden during the NBA Finals. And at least on one occasion a night, the PA announcer read the message to fans.
Plastered on the entire screen in green with a white font, it read: “Fans engaging in any disruptive behavior such as: fighting, throwing objects, attempting to enter the court or interrupt play, USING IMPROPER OR OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE or gestures are subject to ejection , ban, and possible arrest.”
After the Golden State Warriors finished a crucial come-from-behind victory in an obscenity-filled Boston atmosphere in Game 4 to even the series, the treatment Celtics fans displayed toward Draymond Green was still fresh on the mind of players.
A fired-up Klay Thompson walked to the locker room and was greeted by staffers. Upon entering and issuing high fives, he yelled, “Stupid ass fans talking all that s***.”
Players were enraged with the “f*** you, Draymond” chants that began flooding TD Garden in Game 3, and that behavior continued into Game 4.
Inside the locker room, sources told Yahoo Sports, a few players quipped, “So much for enforcing [the] code of conduct.”
Sources said it was even brought up among some players how NBA commissioner Adam Silver praised the behavior of Celtics fans when asked about the obscenities directed at Green, stating, “I love the energy Boston fans bring to the game.”
“I want fans to enjoy themselves,” Silver told WCVB’s Peter Eliopoulos. “Of course, from the league office, you want to see it done with respect for all the participants, but I get it.”
That pivotal Game 4 win by the Warriors turned the series around, and the Celtics, and their fan base, never recovered from the collapse. Golden State completed a three-game winning streak Thursday night to capture its fourth championship in eight years.
Warriors players celebrated in the locker room and among the ruckus, they began reciting a familiar chant: “F*** you, Draymond. F*** you, Draymond.”
Green hadn’t yet joined his teammates in the locker room at the time of the chants, which illustrated how much his team took exception with the way he was treated.
The former Defensive Player of the Year was a force on both sides of the ball in the 103-90 Game 6, clinching win. He produced 12 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks and was 2-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Boston got out to a 14-2 lead, but was outplayed from there and the crowd was taken completely out of the game with the exception of a few second-half premature mini runs.
There wasn’t really a “f*** you, Draymond” on this night.
“Game 3, it just caught me off guard,” Green said about the chants. “Like you’ve heard crowds boo, and I never heard an entire crowd yell ‘f*** you, Draymond.’ That was a different thing. And then so you couple that with having a so-so game, and it’s like, ah, man. … For me, I said what better time than to put it together tonight. I don’t think I heard ‘f*** you, Draymond’ all night. They couldn’t. So, you know, it’s easy to chant ‘f*** you’ when somebody is having a bad game, but can’t you do that when they’re having a great game? I didn’t hear much of it tonight. Maybe I was just that locked in.”
One of Green’s toughest critics is his mother, Mary Babers. She saw how her son dealt with the chants and she challenged him to find a way to get through it and dominate.
“I think he handled it very well and handled [it] better than most people had, but it still affected him. It affected him big time,” Babers told Yahoo Sports. “I think he had lost his confidence a little bit. Being an athlete, you never really experience that. Of course you get five to seven haters in the gym opposed to 20,000. But the way he bounced back was amazing. I told him to tune it all out and he did. You know they say revenge is a dish best served cold. He responded like a true champion.”
After the champagne-spraying locker room celebration, players ventured off to multiple television interviews with different networks on the court.
Stephen Curry, the newly crowned Finals MVP, was in high demand per usual. He had many stops to make before his night was over. Each network had to be patient as he made his rounds.
But the networks were not the only ones on hold.
Former President of the United States Barack Obama called to congratulate Curry, but the sharpshooter was still being interviewed and couldn’t get to the phone.
The two did eventually connect.
Green, Curry, Thompson and head coach Steve Kerr make up the nucleus responsible for building this dynasty. The way each has had one another’s backs through the years is seldom seen in professional sports.
From Thompson’s grueling two-year hiatus, to Curry’s injuries over the last few years, to the organization’s fall from grace and to defending their brother Green in Boston, it’s a model franchise that will go down as one that drafted and developed a game-changing core.
Green is often ridiculed for how outspoken he is and it’s one of the sole reasons why Celtics fans gave him a cringey earful.
But Green got the last word in, and it was the most impactful statement yet.
“It still hasn’t been proven that when we’re whole, nobody can stop it,” he said.