NBA players typically express gratitude and appreciation after they've been chosen to play in the annual All-Star Game, even if they've been there many times. There's always something special about learning that you've made your first All-Star team, though ... especially when the news comes as a surprise, and courtesy of a loved one.
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Late voting pushes for San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard and (somewhat surprisingly) Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia left Draymond Green outside the starting lineup for the 2016 Western Conference All-Stars. With the list of reserves for both conferences set to be announced Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors power forward was scheduled for an interview about his chances of getting a reserve slot with Comcast Sports Net Bay Area, only to have his hit interrupted by a very familiar face and voice: those of his mother, Internet superstar Mary Babers-Green.
You can watch the full 8 1/2-minute clip at the CSN Bay Area website, which includes an all-time line from Mama Green.
"You know how I always say this is a popularity contest?" she asked, referencing her distaste with the fan-voting system for selecting All-Star starters that can sometimes result in more famous players earning nods over those who have had superior seasons. (Cough, cough.)
"Well ... someone thought you was popular."
For what it's worth, Draymond's laughing and repeated questioning of how his mom knew before he did wasn't a bit; this really was the first time he'd heard that he was going to be an All-Star, according to Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears.
Babers-Green was thrilled to be the one to tell Draymond that he would join two Golden State teammates, starter Stephen Curry and fellow reserve selection Klay Thompson, in Toronto for the Feb. 14 exhibition, marking the first time in 40 years that the Warriors had sent three players to the All-Star Game. She was a bit less thrilled, though, at having to wait an extra week to deliver the good news, according to Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group:
A similar surprise was supposed to occur last week when ESPN sent a crew to the home of Babers-Green in Saginaw, Michigan, to film her giving the news to her son by phone that he would be a Western Conference starter. But when he wasn't voted into the starting lineup, the network had to scrap the plan and eat the expense. CSNBA picked up the ball at [Warriors media relations executive Raymond] Ridder's suggestion, however, and did a remote hookup with Green's mother for the All-Star reserves announcement. Having not told Draymond about the ESPN snafu, she had to stay quiet for the whole week.
"It was exciting because I knew how excited Dray would be," said Babers-Green by phone. "But I had to keep it a secret, and that was the hard part, because Dray and I talk about everything. This has been one of his lifelong dreams. I lived this with him since he first proclaimed it. So just to see him live that dream and give the news to him was really fun. I thought I could hear him crying. I think he was full of tears."
Green later told Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal during an interview on TNT's All-Star reserve announcement special that he was close to tears, but that he had to close off the waterworks in the interest of Internet self-preservation:
If Green's on-court playmaking — a career-high 7.2 assists per game, sixth-best in the NBA, while serving as the Warriors' ostensible point forward — doesn't leave you convince of his ability to see the game two steps ahead, surely his awareness that he could be the new Crying Jordan will make you a believer. Talk about vision.
Green's full eight-minute interview with the "Inside the NBA" crew — touching on how he found out, what it says about evolving standards of evaluation that a "player like him" makes a "team like this," and more — is well worth the watch:
Some players in the past have talked about the difficulty of finding time within all the pageantry and off-court commitments of All-Star Weekend, especially the first time around, to really enjoy the moment, appreciate the achievement and have a good time with the experience. Somehow, I don't think that's going to be a problem for Draymond Green.
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