Kevin Durant on NBA Players’ Criticism of Donald Trump: ‘We Don’t F**k With Him’

On Thursday, while he was being accosted by a TMZ cameraman at his own Kevin Durant Day parade in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, Kevin Durant did not mince words when it came to the man currently occupying the White House Monday through Friday

If you're wondering what the context was for his remarks, the reigning Finals MVP was asked about how vocal several NBA players have been recently about Donald Trump. “Hell yeah, hell yeah. We're supposed to be,” KD responded. “We don't fuck with him.”

Then, asked if he saw himself getting involved with public criticism at some point, he didn't directly respond while he was signing a shoe. However, it seems that was just a delay, as he basically answered later in the day during an interview with ESPN.

What Durant told the Worldwide Leader is that he wouldn't be visiting the White House if the champs were to be invited, which actually has yet to happen. “Nah, I won't do that,” he said. “I don't respect who's in office right now.”

Durant says that wasn't necessarily a team decision, but rather a personal one. “I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” he said. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me.”

Considering the Warriors will probably win the championship every season for the foreseeable future, we'll see if this is a permanent decision on KD's part, or more of a one time thing.

He also spoke about what happened at Charlottesville this past weekend. “I just wanted to sit back and analyze everything and gather my thoughts,” he said. “I wanted to say something immediately, but I definitely want to be the voice of where I come from and people who have come from my neighborhood and deal with oppression.

“I'm representing a lot of people. As far as what's going on in our country, for one, as an athlete, you have to commend Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, CP3 [Chris Paul] [and] Dwyane Wade for starting that conversation last year. Russell Westbrook also said something in his speech. A lot [of] guys with platforms have drove the conversation in a good direction. And what's going on in Charlottesville, that was unfathomable.”

You can read Durant's full comments over at ESPN.

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Stephen A. Smith’s Bizarre History of Beefing With NBA Players

Stephen A. Smith has criticized LeBron James for all kinds of crazy reasons over the course of the last decade. From the time he ripped him for tweeting about playing in the NFL rather than worrying about winning his first NBA title, to the time he said LeBron will never be able to match Michael Jordan’s legacy, SAS has gone in on James early and often, on TV shows like ESPN First Take and on his various social media accounts.

Despite all of the shots SAS has taken at LeBron over the years, though, there has never really been any “beef” between the two men because, for the most part, LeBron has steered clear of responding to anything SAS has said about him. Even though some of the stuff has no doubt gotten under LeBron’s skin, he's shied away from responding to almost everything SAS has said and reported about him, so tensions between the two haven’t escalated.

But that all changed on Tuesday when LeBron decided to respond to a report that SAS put out earlier this week. If you somehow missed it, SAS was doing his daily ESPN Radio show on Monday when he revealed that “sources” in LeBron's camp told him that LeBron is “tempted to beat [Kyrie Irving's] ass” as a result of the recent trade rumors swirling around Irving and the Cavaliers. SAS reported that a source told him LeBron wasn’t necessarily upset with Irving because of the rumors, but rather, he was upset because his name was being dragged into the discussion and he was being cited as one of the reasons Irving wanted out of Cleveland.

LeBron took to Twitter to shoot down that report. He used the hashtag #NotFacts and told people to “get another source” if they want the truth about the state of his current relationship with Irving:

SAS very well could have just taken to Twitter himself and said that he was standing behind his original report. But if you know SAS, then you know that he would never do something that quietly. So rather than going in that direction, SAS unloaded on LeBron during a 15-minute rant on his radio show on Tuesday. He reiterated what he said in his original report on LeBron and Irving.

“If LeBron James was in front of Kyrie Irving, I was told, quote, he would be tempted to whoop his ass,” SAS said. “That’s what was told to me. I did not speculate, I did not put that out there, it was told to me. Verbatim.”

SAS also seemed to threaten LeBron during his rant; he said if LeBron wanted to play hard ball with him, he was prepared to tell “the real story about what happened with LeBron James against Boston the spring before he decided to leave Cleveland and take his talents to South Beach.” It was a reference to the struggles LeBron endured during his final playoff series as a Cavalier prior to his signing with the Heat in 2010.

You can listen to SAS go off on LeBron here:

SAS followed that up with another rant on First Take Wednesday morning. Even though he’s on vacation from the show right now, he made a special appearance to continue ripping LeBron:

He went on The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz and continued his anti-LeBron rant there, too:

Does the idea of one of ESPN’s leading NBA analysts/reporters going off on the best basketball player in the world seem crazy to you? Us, too. While we admit we’ve been entertained by the SAS vs. LeBron drama—especially since this is traditionally a pretty dead time of year for sports—it seems strange to see a beef like this playing out on ESPN.

But we really shouldn’t be all that surprised by it. SAS has, after all, spent quite a bit of time beefing with professional athletes in recent years. From Arian Foster and Josh Gordon to Martavis Bryant and Michael Bennett, he has refused to fall back when pro athletes have called him out for one reason or another. But in particular, SAS has been involved in some really bizarre beefs with NBA players.

Back in May 2014, SAS was involved in a brief beef with then-Warriors center Andrew Bogut, one that was pretty tame when compared to his most recent beef with LeBron. It started after SAS accused Bogut of having “no heart.” He went as far as to suggest Bogut’s teammates called him the “Tin Man” behind his back:

SAS also referred to Bogut as “Andrew Bogus.” At that point, Bogut decided he had heard enough. A few weeks later, Bogut made an appearance on a podcast in Australia and said that SAS is “just a wanker.”

A few months later, SAS also got into it with then-76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams after Carter-Williams wrote a lengthy article for The Players’ Tribune. In the piece, he touched on the time the Sixers set a new NBA record by losing their 27th game in a row in the spring of 2014. He accused reporters like SAS of suggesting that the Sixers were losing games on purpose.

Carter-Williams also said he believes SAS is “playing a character” every time he goes on TV. That prompted SAS to fire back at him on social media, where he seemingly warned Carter-Williams by telling him to “be careful who you try and call out”:

But SAS’ most notable beef with an NBA player—prior to his beef with LeBron, at least—took place in the fall of 2015 when he got into a war of words with Kevin Durant. During the NBA offseason that year, SAS reported that he had heard KD might end up on the Knicks alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. KD responded to that report by saying SAS was “lying.” He also said SAS didn’t know anyone in his inner circle, as he had suggested in his initial report.

KD's comments led SAS to go on a now-infamous rant on First Take that included him saying, “You do not want to make an enemy out of me”:

SAS added: “This implication that I don’t know stuff? Y’all better think twice about that. Because when these NBA games come, you’re going to see me at these arenas, and remember what I said to you: I can find out more in 10 minutes at a basketball arena than I can on the phone with 50 different people inside of two weeks. Think about that, and ask yourself: Do you really want to go there?”

Some people might have toned down their act after all of the controversy that the situation with KD caused. But SAS has continued to beef with NBA players since then.

In early 2016, SAS engaged in a back-and-forth with former NBA star Glenn Robinson. According to an interview Robinson did with TMZ Sports, the beef started back when he was still playing in the league, after SAS wrote something about him that he didn’t like. It reignited after SAS appeared on SiriusXM’s Karen Hunter Show and accused Robinson of not following the pro-black agenda he preached during his playing days:

“I saw this man march lock step with what [former Bucks head coach] George Karl wanted to do…but Randy Ayers became the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers…you treated this man like trash,” SAS said. “But you’ll come and talk to reporters about how brothers need to facilitate brothers being hired, but you had one and how’d you treat him?”

That beef ended with Robinson proposing a cage match between him and SAS:

And as recently as June, SAS got tangled up with former NBA player Lamar Odom after he made a wildly disrespectful comment on First Take. While criticizing then-Knicks team president Phil Jackson on the show, SAS pointed out that one of Jackson’s first moves with the Knicks in 2015 was to sign Odom, who was, in his words, “on crack”:

Odom fired back through his lawyer, who sent a letter to ESPN concerning SAS’ comments about his battle with drug addiction. “To say his conduct was outrageous and unacceptable does not scratch the surface,” the letter said. “We hope those at ESPN will actively voice their disdain for Mr. Smith’s inappropriate statement and take the proper action to support those that are fighting this disease.”

SAS responded by issuing an apology of sorts, in which he said that the comments he made were meant to be directed at Jackson and “were NOT to put any more focus on Lamar Odom’s much publicized drug use and addiction.”

He added: “Lamar Odom was not the focus of my ire. My comments were entirely, totally, meant for Phil Jackson.”

If all of this proves anything, it’s that when you spend as much time as SAS does debating sports on TV, on the radio, and on social media, you’re going to upset athletes eventually. They’re going to take issue with some of the things that you say and report, and they’re going to call you out for it. It comes with the territory, especially when you're as vocal about your opinions as SAS often is.

But it’s still pretty crazy to see just how willing SAS is to beef with some of the biggest names in the sport that he covers the closest. And after seeing how far he’s been willing to take his beef with LeBron this week, we can’t help but wonder how long he’s going to keep this up.

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Kevin Durant Clapped Back at Troll Who Joked About Him Leaving OKC

It doesn’t seem like it’s all that difficult to get under Kevin Durant’s skin on social media. Over the last few years, KD has gotten into the habit of reading his mentions on Twitter and responding accordingly. He went in on a bunch of trolls who tried to attack him on Twitter after he won his first NBA title in June and added to his growing list of epic Twitter clapbacks in the process.

And it doesn’t appear as though KD is going to let up anytime soon, either. On Monday night, he took to Twitter to respond to a few of the people who crowd into his mentions on a daily basis. And while the majority of his responses were G-rated and focused mostly on his basketball opinions, KD just couldn’t resist the urge to clap back at one troll who made a dumb joke about him leaving Oklahoma City.

In his tweet, the fan claimed he named his dog after KD and the dog left him:

KD responded by calling the fan a piece of… poop emoji:

The fan eventually admitted that his dog didn’t really run away from him:

But he did prove that his dog really is named after KD by posting this:

He also seemed to take pride in the fact that KD apparently made Steph Curry laugh by clapping back at him:

He wasn’t the only fan to feel the wrath of KD on Monday. This fan tried to troll KD by suggesting that he “bought” his first championship ring:

KD asked him how much it cost:

KD also responded to this fan who brought up an old tweet from someone who told KD he wasn’t allowed to talk until he went 15-1 in the postseason, which he obviously did during the 2017 NBA Playoffs:

But KD's tweet directed at the guy with the dog was the best of the bunch. And it showed, once again, why it’s silly to spend any time trolling KD online.

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Remember When Kevin Durant Ruined the Fourth of July?

When Kevin Durant signed a five-year, $86 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 7, 2010, he did so without any of the pomp and circumstance that came along with the decision that LeBron James would make on The Decision just one day later. Unlike LeBron—who infamously sat down for a live TV interview with Jim Gray to discuss his decision to leave the Cavaliers in order to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat—KD didn’t make a big deal out of his announcement. He revealed that he would be staying put in OKC through at least the 2015-16 NBA season by sending out this simple, straightforward, no-frills tweet, spelling and grammatical errors and all:

And when The New York Times tracked KD down later that same day to ask him why he decided to go that route as opposed to broadcasting his decision in a more spectacular fashion, he seemed confused by the question. “What’s there to really talk about?” he said, before explaining why he was so low-key when it came time to tell the world that he was going to stay in OKC for another five years. “I just told everybody I wasn’t talking about it, really. I just kept it to myself. That’s just the type of person I am. I don’t like the attention around me.”

At the time, KD was applauded by many NBA fans and members of the media for using social media to announce his contract extension rather than dragging the process out like LeBron did. KD’s method was seen as a breath of fresh air at a time when the NBA free agency period was starting to turn into a much bigger storyline than it had been in the past, due to the sudden growth and popularity of social media. “Kevin Durant didn’t need a one-hour special on the World Wide Leader,” Darnell Mayberry, a writer for The Oklahoman, wrote at the time. “The Thunder’s star was satisfied with just 140 characters.”

But sometime between July 2010 when he signed his contract extension with the Thunder and July 2016 when he became a free agent, KD’s attitude towards free agency seemed to change. The NBA free agency period continued to become more and more of a circus every year, with NBA reporters like David Aldridge of NBA.com, Marc Stein of ESPN, and of course, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tracking the every move of NBA free agents the moment the clock struck midnight on July 1.

Players like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, and LeBron—who became a free agent again in 2014 and announced his decision to return to the Cavaliers by penning a letter to the city of Cleveland in Sports Illustrated—took full advantage of it by meeting with as many teams as they could and hearing as many pitches from executives as possible once they became free agents. And as KD’s own free agency started to get closer and closer, he seemed to embrace the idea of going through the process just as players like Williams, Howard, and LeBron had.

By early 2016, there were reports about how KD wanted to be courted once he officially became a free agent. Much to the chagrin of all the Thunder fans out there, it didn’t sound like KD was going to announce that he was re-signing with the Thunder through another tweet. Rather, Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Mannix reported that KD was looking forward to being wined and dined by different NBA teams. Sources told Mannix KD’s free agency was going to be a much bigger production than it had been in 2010:

Durant is looking forward to being recruited, to being courted, to being treated like the biggest free-agent prize since LeBron James six years ago. The chances of Durant sending a simple tweet again announcing his return are virtually nonexistent, but the Thunder remain hopeful that his decision, regardless of how this season ends, is the same.

KD downplayed all of the various reports about him entertaining offers from other NBA teams during free agency throughout the 2015-16 NBA season. He said all the right things about the Thunder organization and his teammates, and he never really gave any indication that he was going to seriously consider leaving OKC once July 1 hit.

But by late June, it was clear that KD was going to, at the very least, listen to what other teams had to say. According to ESPN, KD’s representatives scheduled meetings with the Warriors, Spurs, Celtics, Heat, Clippers, and Thunder. Teams like the Knicks, Wizards, and Lakers reportedly tried to get time with KD, too. It seemed like it was exactly what KD was looking for, based on the earlier reports.

It was unclear how long it was going to take KD to make his final decision, though. He had so many meetings set up that it didn’t sound like he was going to get around to letting the world know where he would sign for at least a week once NBA free agency started. One Oklahoman report even suggested KD might hold off until July 9 to sign with a team, which would have meant nine days worth of speculation surrounding what he was ultimately going to do. But once free agency officially started, Wojnarowski revealed that July 4 looked like the day KD would make his announcement:

During the first few days of July, it was difficult to keep up with all of the KD news that was coming out. There were reports about how his initial meeting with the Thunder on July 1 “went well,” according to ESPN sources. But there were also reports about how a subsequent meeting with the Warriors went “very well,” which seemed to trump the earlier report about his OKC meeting:

There were other meetings with the teams listed above on July 2 and July 3, too. But after two days, it seemed like the Thunder and Warriors were leading the pack and had the best chances of signing KD to a deal. KD met with the Thunder for a second time on July 3 to conclude his scheduled free agency meetings:

And then, he stepped back from the process to weigh his options, with many reporters close to the situation—like ESPN’s Royce Young—reporting that he was close to picking either the Thunder or Warriors:

The stage was set for July 4 to be the day KD would announce his decision:

July 4 would end up being one of the most agonizing days in recent history for NBA fans, players, and reporters. When LeBron made his decision in 2010, there was a lot of hype surrounding it, but there was also a definitive day and time when everyone would be able to tune in and see which team LeBron was going to pick. The Decision would air at 9 p.m. on ESPN, and shortly thereafter, we would all know where LeBron was going to play the following season.

It wasn’t like that for KD. While most people suspected his decision was going to come down on July 4, KD himself hadn’t confirmed or denied the reports about it, and he also later admitted that when he woke up on July 4, he still hadn’t made a definitive decision as to which team he was going to sign with. So the world waited—and oddly enough, poked fun at KD’s old BlackPlanet page—while he mulled over the decision on the morning of July 4.

To KD’s credit, he didn’t keep us waiting for very long. At right around noon on July 4, KD took to Twitter for the second time in his NBA career to announce what he planned to do in free agency. But this time, it took more than 140 characters to get his message across. He tweeted out a link to a post he had written for The Players’ Tribune called “My Next Chapter”:

And in the post, KD shared some stunning news: He was leaving the Thunder to join the Warriors.

The news sent shock waves through the NBA community, and it ruined a lot of people’s Fourth of July. Thunder fans were obviously upset about the fact that KD was leaving the team, just six years after he had committed to OKC and told fans that he planned to stay there for a long, long time:

Other NBA fans were disappointed with KD’s decision as well. Many reacted to the news about KD signing with the Warriors by pointing out that there wouldn’t really even be a reason to play the 2016-17 NBA season since the result seemed like a foregone conclusion:

The words “Damn KD” started trending on Twitter:

And within just minutes of KD making his announcement, Stephen A. Smith was all over ESPN ripping him for it. He was one of many media members upset with the way KD’s free agency period ended:

NBA players also chimed in and seemed just as shocked as fans. It was surreal to see what some of them had to say:

In the end, not everyone had their days ruined. There were plenty of Warriors fans out there who were thrilled to hear about KD’s decision. Golden State was just a few weeks removed from blowing a 3-1 lead to lose to the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. So KD signing with the Warriors was exactly what they needed at the time.

But for most people outside of the Bay Area, July 4, 2016—a day that should have been all about beer, burgers, and fireworks—was anything but a celebration. It was a shocking jolt to the system that proved the NBA was about to change dramatically during the following season. It was also a disappointing end to what seemed like a fun free agency period for KD.

It was basically everything that July 7, 2010 wasn’t. Back then, KD was just looking to work out a deal with as little fanfare as possible. But by 2016, that had all changed—and there were so many people who resented and still resent KD for it. And they're not going to forget about it anytime soon.

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Kevin Durant Claps Back at Twitter Trolls Who Are Talking Trash

The NBA Finals are over, which means Kevin Durant is back on Twitter.

KD has a lot of time on his hands, basking in the glory of his first NBA title. Apparently, he has so much time that he took it upon himself to address a few Twitter users who have been all up in his mentions with their hot takes and other random insults. Here’s him going in a few days ago:

Today, Durant is still being a savage. It all started when he complemented Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, who became the WNBA’s all-time scoring leader following the team’s win against the Los Angeles Sparks (90-59) in L.A. From there, KD was having some fun, getting into an argument with one superfan from OKC. A “fart in your face” insult was actually hurled.

At this point, you're probably wondering why KD is even engaging in social media at all. Everyone needs to blow off steam somehow, right?

But this might be the real reason. Says “the legend”:

LOL. Nice curve.

Keep doing you, KD.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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The Craziest NBA Finals Game Ever Just Delayed the Inevitable

CLEVELAND — It started off with a crazy 49-point first quarter from the Cavs, who finished with an even crazier 86 points at halftime. That was topped by the craziest third quarter the NBA Finals has ever seen when a series worth of soap opera like drama was squeezed into 12 minutes. 

Game 4 of the NBA Finals was­ wild, ridiculous, and absurd. We saw Cleveland go bonkers on offense in the first half, the refs call 51 fouls, the seemingly random rescinding of a technical on Draymond Green, and some extracurricular activities from superstars and role players alike that will be dissected for the next two days. When it was all said and done, the Cavs were 137-116 winners and extended the series at least one more game with a physical effort we hadn’t seen through the series' first three contests.  

“We took it to them first and that was very telling for the rest of the game,” Kevin Love said.

So here we are again. The Warriors are up 3-1 and headed back to the West Coast. And while we can draw as many parallels as we want to last year’s historic NBA Finals, the Cavs extending the series only feels like we’re delaying the inevitable this time around.

But before we get to that, Cleveland should be commended for preventing the Warriors from becoming the only team in NBA history to go 16-0 in the postseason. Their chance to do that was pretty much over early Friday as the Cavs blitzed Golden State for an NBA Finals record 49 points in the first quarter and an NBA Playoffs record 86 points after two. And they kept shooting lights out the rest of the way. Cleveland finished shooting 52.9 percent from the field and made an NBA Finals record 24 3-pointers. Through the first three games of the series, Cleveland had only made 31 threes.

Quicken Loans Arena was rocking as the Cavs treated their fans to a rollicking performance led by Kyrie Irving’s 40 points. LeBron James recorded his 9th NBA Finals triple-double, surpassing Magic Johnson for the all-time mark, going for 31, 11, and 10 while Love added 23 and J.R, Smith contributed 15.

“We played a desperate team at home and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”

It was a feel good night for the Cavs and their fans, for sure. The crowd was hyped from the start and the Cavs, who were ripe to be blown out following Game 3’s devastating loss, fed off their energy. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said there was no special pregame speech. He liked his squad’s attitude during the morning’s shootaround. “Guys were upbeat. No hanging heads,” he said. Maybe the Warriors were too caught up in chasing history? 

“I don’t think there was any thoughts or concerns about history,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We played a desperate team at home and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”

This one will be remembered for the truly bizarre third quarter. We had LeBron’s self-pass off the backboard for a dunk that will go down as one of the Finals’ most memorable plays. Later on, the King and Kevin Durant were jawing at each other and drew duel techs. “We weren't coming to blows, we were just talking,” Durant said. A little over a minute after that, Green was tossed for earning a second technical before he wasn’t. The refs ended up giving it to Steve Kerr instead. Finally, we saw Groingate v. 2017 when it looked like Zaza Pachulia took a swipe at Iman Shumpert’s sensitive area during a scrum for a loose ball.

NBA conspiracy theory junkies will have a field day dissecting that and all the fouls called by the refs in Cleveland's favor, especially in the first quarter. With the Finals enjoying some of their highest ratings in years, we all know the league really wants it to extend as long as possible and early on the zebras seemingly did their part. The Cavs went to the free throw line 22 times in the first 12 minutes. Somewhere in the bowels of Quicken Loans Arena, or back in New York—wherever he was—it was like commissioner Adam Silver was pulling all the right strings to at least extend the Finals to five games.

LeBron Draymond KD Zaza NBA Finals Game 4 2017
Image via USA Today Sports/Ken Blaze

But does this really change anything? Has momentum swung back in the Cavs favor? The Cavs deserve credit for not rolling over and letting the Warriors celebrate a title on their floor. They were gritty, gutty, and grimy, playing physical for the first time all series and roughing up the Warriors. But let’s be real here: the Warriors were their own worst enemy in Game 4. Featuring a ton of isolation and practically none of their signature run and gun offense or precision ball movement, the second half saw the Warriors brick a ton threes and settle for low percentage long twos. Golden State finished shooting 28.2 percent from beyond the arc, well below their 39.6 percent average this postseason. Yes, the Cavs are the second best team in the league and getting one of the Warriors shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the Dubs were due for a dud.

“It was one of those nights where we didn’t have anything clicking,” Steph Curry said

The “Cavs in 7’ chant that broke near the end of the game was cute, an ode to the tweet JR Smith claims he didn’t send out following Game 3. But the chances the Cavs faithful see their team play again in person are slim to none. The Warriors were garbage in Game 4, a hot mess on offense, and now they’re headed home where they have lost just once in their last 16 games. They’ve been the superior team three out of four games. They were the superior team during the regular season and during their run to the Finals. They have a potential championship clinching Game 5 Monday in Oracle Arena where they trounced Cleveland in the first two games of the series and once back in January. Draymond won't be suspended for Game 5 like last year. And most importantly they still have more firepower and more superstars than the Cavs, starting with the biggest difference maker, KD.

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How Draymond Green’s Suspension in Last Year’s Finals Changed NBA History

There comes a crossroads in every sport where a single play or moment transforms everything that comes after. The ripples affect everything. Sometimes they are more like a tsunami, and an entire sport is restructured. That’s what occurred when LeBron James casually tripped Draymond Green and then stepped over him in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals, provoking an emotional Green to whip his right hand at James’ groin in retaliation.

Because of Draymond’s series of kicks to Steven Adams’ baby-making area in the Western Conference Finals, and a tremendously stupid takedown of Michael Beasley in the waning moments in Game 3 of Golden State’s first-round series against Houston, he was assessed a Flagrant 1 for the James retaliation, which triggered a suspension for Game 5 of the Finals.

The NBA would never be the same.

It’s not crazy to suggest that if Draymond had been on the floor in Game 5, the Warriors would have gone on to win the game and the series. The fall-out from the suspension and the fact—here we go—the Cavs came back from 3-1 down against a 73-win Warriors team and the first-ever unanimous MVP to claim the title, transforms Green’s suspension into a gigantic boulder dropped in the NBA Lake with concentric tidal waves crashing into the surrounding shore and changing the entire landscape of the league. What would have happened if he wasn’t suspended?

For starters, the Cavs don’t win the title and blow up their core nucleus.

The 2017 Voltron in the Bay doesn’t ever form if Draymond Green isn’t suspended for Game 5, and the NBA is a completely different place. For that reason alone, Green’s groin thwack will reverberate throughout history.

A second-straight loss in the Finals to the same Warriors team likely means a monumental change. Cleveland general manager David Griffin had already shown midway through the 2015-16 season he had no qualms making big moves, replacing coach David Blatt with lead assistant Tyronn Lue despite the fact the Cavs had the best record in the Eastern Conference at the time.

The Kevin Love trade whispers would have ratcheted up into a piercing howl and he’s likely not playing for the Cavaliers in 2016-17. Whoever he’s traded to, lets say Boston, is then missing whomever they gave up to get him; in Boston’s case, their 2017 draft pick and some other players to a third team who then sends their star to the Cavs. (Remember, LeBron isn’t waiting around for some rookie, even the No. 1 pick—like when Andrew Wiggins was traded for Love the fall after James arrived in Cleveland.)

Maybe Kyrie Irving—LeBron’s current mentee—gets dealt, and the Cavs bring in a pass-first point guard, the same playmaker LeBron groused about not having earlier this year.

Lue isn’t brought back as coach. Remember, in late July of 2016 Lue signed a five-year, $35 million (fifth year is team option) extension to remain Cleveland's head coach.

LeBron still opts out of his contract, but signs another two-year deal, explicitly putting more pressure on Cavs brass to give him the players he needs to really compete—luxury tax be damned—with a Warriors juggernaut who just won back-to-back titles and an NBA-record 73 regular-season games.

James also falls to 2-5 in the NBA Finals, and doesn’t leapfrog all-time greats Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant like many felt he did after his historic comeback win over the Warriors. The Michal Jordan comparisons never really gain serious traction. People continue to say dumb things about James inability in the “clutch.” Some in Cleveland start to wonder if James will ever win a ring in Cleveland, and we spend most of the 2016-17 season wondering about his future with the Cavs.

J.R. Smith signs elsewhere in the summer of 2017 for substantially less money. Smith stupidly opted out to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015, but no one really wanted him. He then re-signed with Cleveland to a paltry-by-comparison two-year deal for $10.4 million with a player option for second year. He opted out again after winning the title and re-signed a four-year, $57-million deal in mid October of 2016. That doesn’t happen if Green isn’t suspended.

LeBron James Draymond Green Game 4 NBA Finals 2016
Image via USA Today Sports/David Richard

Perhaps the most important Cavs consequence after Green’s suspension: Matthew Dellavedova likely doesn’t get his own signature sneaker.

The biggest changes happen on the Golden State side, though, and those reverberations are felt throughout the league.

Draymond Green likely wins Finals MVP or—depending on how Game 5 goes—Stephen Curry does, cementing his status as an all-time great. Instead, many feel he’s an overrated two-time MVP who can’t hack it on the biggest stage. If Draymond wins MVP, he instantly becomes an all-time great, too. But, he probably still gets arrested over the summer for punching a Michigan State wide receiver.

Kevin Durant never goes to Golden State. He admitted as much in a Rolling Stone cover story that came out the fall after his shocking free agency announcement:

That means KD’s likely back with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and Russ doesn’t average a triple-double over the entirety of the 2016-17 season. Because of this, James Harden becomes the de facto 2017 MVP front-runner after teaming with Mike D’Antoni to bring seven seconds or less to Texas.

Affecting the 2017 MVP is one thing, but Durant’s decision to join the Warriors had much bigger ramifications. Super teams have been around in the NBA since Red Auerbach was chomping on a cigar and hoodwinking rival executives in smoke-filled back rooms, but nothing resembling the 2017 Warriors, who have two MVPs in their prime; a Defensive Player of the Year threat every season and perhaps the best defender in the space-and-pace era, and maybe the best two-way off-guard in the entire league, who is only their fourth-best player.

The 2017 Voltron in the Bay doesn’t ever form if Draymond Green isn’t suspended for Game 5, and the NBA is a completely different place. For that reason alone, Green’s groin thwack will reverberate throughout history as one of the biggest watershed moments in NBA history.

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Let’s All Acknowledge Game 1’s Real MVP: Rihanna

Let's get the obvious out of the way: there was a basketball game on Thursday night. It was Game 1 of the NBA finals. Some shots were taken, people ran up and down the court and stuff, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91.

But to many people who watched (and announced, and played in) the game, the real star wasn't LeBron or Steph Curry, but rather Rihanna. The pop star was in the audience for Game 1, and was not shy about letting it be known who she was rooting for—and against.

From courtside, she apparently heckled KD during a free throw.

And Durant definitely noticed.

He later denied that he was looking at her specifically, but come on.

Jeff Van Gundy, who was calling the game, acted exactly like any of us would, national TV audience or no, when RiRi walked by.

And then there was the bow. In one incredible sequence, Rihanna bows to LeBron, dabs, and then gives attitude to someone nearby who dared to try and get her to sit down.

As she left, the NBA's new favorite was escorted out by the NBA's new favorite commissioner.

And the best was still to come. Immediately post-game, a fan luxuriated in the Warriors' victory. Rihanna's LeBron-inspired response? “It doesn't matter, bitch. The King is still in the house.”

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Paul Pierce Compares Kevin Durant Teaming With Warriors to Kid Teaming With Bullies Who Beat Him Up

Paul Pierce wasn’t a big fan of Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors last summer. He sent out this tweet a short time after KD announced his decision:

He also did an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio a few months later and expressed his displeasure with KD taking his talents to Oakland. “I’m an old school guy,” Pierce said at the time. “I’m a competitor…When you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. That’s always been something that’s driven me. Today’s day and age, a lot of these guys are friends. That’s like if Bird decided to go play with Magic or something.”

It prompted a response from KD’s new teammate Draymond Green, who fired shots back at Pierce. But apparently, it didn’t soften Pierce’s stance on the situation. Because on Tuesday, Pierce appeared on ESPN’s The Jump and once again talked about KD leaving Oklahoma City to team up with Golden State. And he compared it to a kid teaming up with a group of bullies who beat him up.

“I’m not a guy who goes into the neighborhood, gets beat up by the bully’s gang, and then now I want to join their gang,” Pierce said. “[That’s] just not me. I want to fight. Let’s go! I mean, I’m gonna stand up for myself. That’s just the competitive nature of where I come from, the era I grew up in.”

Pierce isn’t the only former or current NBA player who has criticized KD for joining the Warriors. But he has been one of his most outspoken critics, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to let KD off the hook for it anytime soon. KD, meanwhile, seems to be at peace with his decision and has stopped responding to players like Pierce who have been critical of him. You can check out Pierce’s full KD rant in the clip above.

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Why Beyonce Is Going to Get Snubbed Once Again at the Billboard Music Awards

The 2017 Billboard Music Awards are set to take place Sunday, and if you're expecting Beyoncé to score big at this year's event, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

We don't say that as a slight to Beyoncé's 2016: Lemonade is a classic, “Formation” is undeniable, and she truly dominated the stage with her tour by the same name. But as we saw at the Grammys earlier this year, that kind of acclaim doesn't necessarily equate to awards show accolades.

The criteria for the nominee and winner selection process for the Billboard Music Awards is different than the Grammys, in that they place more weight on the commercial success of an artist and their work. Lemonade moved an impressive 2.1 million album-equivalent units in 2016. However, that falls behind Adele's 25, which moved 2.3 million. And keep in mind, 25 sold much more than that when it came out in late November 2015; this fall, it went diamond

And at 4.1 million, Drake's Views outpaced both in 2016. Beyoncé is up against Drake and/or Adele in four categories, so kiss those goodbye.

There's also the Weeknd factor. While his recent album Starboy hasn't sold as much as Lemonade, he's been more of a visible figure than any other pop artist over the last six months, with successful singles and a major headlining tour to boot. And you can never rule out Rihanna's star power.

If you still don't think this is a possible outcome, check back on the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. Beyoncé was coming off the surprise release of her fifth solo album and received seven nominations, including Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Female Artist, and Top R&B Artist. She went home with zero trophies.

​I think she'll earn more awards this time around, but not in the bigger categories. My Beyoncé-related predictions:

  • Top Artist: No
  • Top Female Artist: No
  • Top Billboard 200 Artist: No
  • Top Billboard 200 Album: No
  • Top Touring Artist: Yes
  • Top R&B Artist: No
  • Top R&B Album: Yes
  • Top R&B Tour: Yes

You can catch the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday, May 21 at 8 p.m. (ET) on ABC to find out how Beyoncé fares.

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