Draymond Green has sparked an NBA controversy, saying that James Dolan has operated with a “slave-master mentality” in his dealings with Charles Oakley. The Knicks benefited from Oakley during his physical prime, and Dolan wants to cast Oakley aside now that he is criticizing ownership.
Dolan, it is worth noting, did not own the Knicks when Oakley played in New York (1988-98), but what do we make of Green’s assertion?
“My first reaction was, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of what’s going on here,’” Bleacher Report NBA analyst Ric Bucher said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I know that there are players in the league that feel the owners in general (have that mentality). Donald Sterling just got caught. But the idea that there aren’t more owners in the NBA who think like Donald Sterling or have the same sort of mindset when it comes to players or even race – there are a healthy number of players who believe that to be true. So my first reaction was that: Draymond Green is just ripping the band-aid off. He’s just saying something that a lot of guys think.
“On second blush,” Bucher continued, “I looked at it and I thought, ‘Draymond, you’re playing a card that shouldn’t be played here. Because when you talk about not just slave mentality but slave-master mentality, it does take you back to a very dark time in our history. It’s a white-and-black thing, and James Dolan is an equal-opportunity hater. He kicked Marv Albert to the curb because he criticized the organization. It’s not color. It’s just being an idiot. James Dolan is a bad businessman – and I say that even though the New York Knicks, once again, are at the top of Forbes’ list as far as value. That’s not because James Dolan is a bad businessman. It’s just that the Knicks are impregnable as a brand in New York. It’s unfortunate.”
Bucher recently spoke to an older African American gentleman who said Green needs to be careful about invoking the race card. If you do it too often or in a situation in which it is unmerited, the gentleman said, it devalues the entire conversation.
“There is still racism in this country,” Bucher said. “There still is racism in the NBA. But don’t cavalierly go out there making statements unless you have a little more behind it – because otherwise it takes a lot of the steam out of the legitimacy of what we should be talking about.”
Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber wonder if the timing of Green’s comment was calculated. After all, it’s All-Star weekend.
“Draymond is going to say what Draymond thinks whenever he’s going to say it,” Bucher said, “but the fact that he would bring it up right before All-Star Weekend? Let’s put it this way. He’s not going to avoid that controversy. If the timing happened to be great in that it makes it an issue going into All-Star Weekend, then he’s not going to avoid that. Did he purposefully bring this up? I think probably the timing with Oakley and Dolan is what set the time more than anything else.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Green’s comments are received in the coming days. If Green decides his comments were off-base, Bucher wouldn’t be surprised to see a mea culpa. But again, that’s only if Green feels regret.
“I do know him as a guy who reflects on mistakes that he’s made and trying to correct that,” Bucher said. “So it’s not beyond him. If he thinks he said or did something wrong, then he will correct that and he will admit that I didn’t want to go there or I didn’t want to do that. He’s done that in the past with certain situations. He really did it with the suspension during the Finals last year. He took it upon himself: ‘I have to be better than that. I can’t let that happen.’ So I would imagine that it would be the same thing here.”
Green, by the way, is the same guy who went off on Kevin Durant during a home loss to the Grizzlies earlier this month, so he’s not afraid of controversy – just as long as it serves a purpose.
“He remains the largest voice on that team,” Bucher said. “Good or bad, he’s the conscience of that team. I’m not worried about whatever happens between him and KD because Draymond Green was the guy who recruited KD – and I would dare say that Draymond is a big reason why KD came to the Golden State Warriors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the locker room and those guys are texting each other. One of them has already left, and the other guy is looking at his phone and there’s a text from the other guy and they’re figuring out where they’re going to go for dinner afterward. They are as tight as any two guys on that team. When they have their barking or they’re doing whatever, Draymond feels comfortable doing that with KD because of their relationship. KD is the new guy, so I know a lot of people from the outside would look at it and go, ‘Oh, this thing is going sideways.’ It’s not that. They have those exchanges and Draymond goes after KD like that because he knows that he can.”