Boston handled its business at home in Game 3 Wednesday night. The Celtics led the series 2-1 after Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continued to show their growth and foreshadow arguably the league's next great tandem.
But the game action was secondary to a slew of interesting subplots for me.
First, Draymond Green is easily dislikable. Hateable even. We had an excellent mailbag question about it recently.
And he got an earful from the saucy Boston crowd Wednesday, including some "F--- You, Draymond chants." And that did not please his teammates, coach or his Mrs., who put this on social media:
"Tough loss tonight BUT in NO WAY, shape or got should fans be allowed to chant obscenities at players! Are they not human? Is someone standing at your job saying off the wall things to you? The @nba has the audacity to have a whole code of conduct card at every seat about fans and their behavior and how they could be ejected from a game or banned but a whole crowd/section/numerous people get to chant (F---) YOU DRAYMOND @money23green or call him a (B----) or MF?! And nothing?? Like that's ok? @warriors fans would NEVER !! My kids were at the game tonight hearing that mess! Very DISGUSTING by you little @celtics fans Just shameful!"
Lots to slice into here. Yes, it's a bad look for the fans, especially when there are kids there. And not just Draymond's — all the tots in attendance.
That said, Draymond has said and done things just as unappealing for young eyes, and that's on the floor and in news conferences. He's hardly innocent in this, and in some ways is complicit.
He's making $24-plus-million this year and played in 46 games with averages of 7.5 points, 7.3 boards and 7.0 assists. A lot of that salary comes from his intangibles — like being a lightning rod for foes and opposing fans — as well as the toughness he brings.
And while we're here, the "is someone standing at your job..." routine is weak sauce. Because a) yeah, people heckle my work with profanity on occasion, and b) comes with that eight-figure salary, ma'am.
It also makes me wonder, since Mrs. Green used more exclamation points in that post than I have in the last 48 months, is the double exclamation point, like, really angry? When would a third exclamation point be warranted?
And the whole "?!" is that like a really fired-up question?
Where were we? Ah yes, Draymond. Thoughts?
Next point, these 9 p.m. tip times — which normally means a 9:12 tip-off — make it tough to stay to the end of these Finals. And when you know you aren't likely going to be there until the end, it makes getting invested from the jump difficult, too.
Finally welcome back Mike Breen. You were missed, and the next time your contract is up for renegotiation, just play them the tape of the games in these playoffs that you missed for the COVID. It's quite telling.
So they hit four homers — including a three-run game-clincher from Ozzie Albies in the seventh — and were almost perfect in relief.
The 13-2 thumping the Braves delivered to the A's was very much what a lot of us expected from one of the game's most complete lineups and the defending World Series champions. But aside from the big flies and the bullpen, two of the younger Braves delivered meaningful moments Wednesday and offered more than promise for the now and the future.
Ian Anderson was much sharper against the A's, allowing only two earned over six innings after allowing at least four runs in each of his previous three starts. As Charlie Morton continues to battle inconsistency, Anderson being a reliable starter would be much-needed.
Moreover, Michael Harris II looks the part of big-time talent. Defensively, he may be the Braves outfielder, which is saying something because Ronald Acuña is still on the roster.
But with eight hits in his last 25 ABs (.320), Harris has raised his average to .268, and at least for this year, if he plays a Gold Glove-caliber center and hits north of Mendoza, it's gravy. A Duvall-Harris-Acuna outfield is as good defensively as any in recent memory.
And don't look now, but the Braves have won seven straight and are a season-best three games over .500. They trail the Mets by 7 in the NL East.
L.A. cash machine
So, the Rams are writing monster checks to every player this side of Fred Dryer and Wendell Tyler. Aaron Donald got a $40 million raise. Cooper Kupp got a three-year, $80-million extension. Man, Flipper Anderson is wondering when his check's coming.
To be fair, if you are going to pay any non-QB that kind of coin — and that much of your cap percentage — Donald and Kupp are two worthy candidates.
Donald is on the shortlist with LT, Deion, Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu as the most impactful, game-changing defensive players of my lifetime.
Kupp just completed one of the single best seasons for a wide receiver in league history. Over the next three years, those two will earn on average more than a combined $53 million per season. And unless the league changed the cap rules to allow defending Super Bowl champs some extra wiggle room, well, the next Rams free agent or six may be hard-pressed to find any loose change. Granted Matt Stafford's reworked extension in March means his cap hit in 2023 is only $13.5 million, but still it's clear the Rams are trying to keep their current championship window open in the now.
I appreciate that from a franchise. Sure building for the future has merit and must be considered, but the chance to win one Super Bowl must be seized and if you can get a second one, well, then you are Canton-bound.
It also points to the belief the front office has in Sean McVay and the staff. Because to be competitive in the NFL and have a top-heavy roster with a cap dominated by a few superstars, well, the schemes need to be better than the opposition and the development of younger (i.e. inexpensive) players is paramount.
This and that
— Saw this story and appreciated the message. The headline reads, "More than 600 conservatives, mostly in Texas, call for gun reform." Here's the story from Reuters.
— Many congrats to all honored and all involved with the Best of Preps banquet last night. And landing Stetson Bennett was an awesome get from the jump and it sounds as if the show was top-notch.
— As the LIV makes a splash across the pond — here's today's TFP sports column on it — you have to give a visor tip and a golf clap to the pitch-perfect responses Rory and JT gave about players leaving the PGA Tour. Here's Rory's main point: "Any decision you make in your life that's purely for money, usually doesn't end up going the right way." And here's JT's: "I don't dislike D.J. now. I don't think he's a bad dude. I'm not going to treat him any differently. It's like he's entitled to choose as he wishes. And I think that the day and age that we live in now, it's just so negative that you see it in everything. Sport, politics, whatever it is, it's like if you disagree with someone you just feel that you're entitled to like hate them and talk bad about them and just bash their decision when everybody's entitled to their own opinion, you know what I mean?"
— It does not appear the USGA at least will ban any of the LIV players from the U.S. Open later this month. That said, a powerful cry from booting the LIV players from majors and from the Ryder Cup was made this week by Hatice Cengiz, who was engaged to journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a journalist who was killed and the U.S. intelligence community believes it was ordered by the Saudi crown prince who is bank-rolling the LIV.
— More LIV: Apparently Graeme McDowell was the only golfer willing to even tangentially discuss the history and allegations against the LIV backers. Here's what McDowell said to reporters this week: "I wish I had the ability to be able to have that conversation with you. You know, I think as golfers, if we tried to cure geopolitical situations in every country in the world that we play golf in, we wouldn't play a lot of golf. It's a really hard question to answer. You know, we're just here to focus on the golf and kind of what it does globally for the role models that these guys are and that we are, and yeah, that's a really hard question to get into.
Free-for-all Thursday. Whatcha got? And remember the mailbag.
As for today, June 9, let's review.
Johnny Depp is 59 today. Wonder what he's been up to? Michael J. Fox is 61. Natalie Portman is 41.
Donald Duck made his debut in a Disney cartoon on this day in 1934.
Today also is National Rose Day.
Rushmore of 'Rose' and be creative.