For two weeks, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have battled in the NBA Finals … and in the headlines. Surprisingly, the normally reserved Klay Thompson has been in the middle of most of it. The Warriors guard said he thought Timofey Mozgov’s pick on him “seemed dirty” after Game 3, though he later recanted that opinion.
Then on Sunday, Thompson criticized LeBron James for how he reacted to Draymond Green’s trash talk,, saying the NBA is a “man’s league” and adding, “I guess his feelings just got hurt.”
Following the Cavaliers’ 112-97 win in Game 5, Richard Jefferson called Thompson out, via The Vertical’s Chris Mannix:
James blocked it out, ignored it, but make no mistake: Others didn’t. Privately, Cavaliers officials wondered how Thompson can complain about a Timofey Mozgov screen one day and declare the NBA to be a “man’s league” on another, how the toughness, mental or otherwise, of a star player who has yet to see the benefit of many whistles can be so openly questioned.
“If it’s a man’s game, shut up about the [illegal screen],” Jefferson told The Vertical. “Or don’t say anything about LeBron. Klay, he’s like my little brother. But we can’t contradict ourselves.”
This is some light scolding from Jefferson, who was teammates with Thompson for a year and a half in Golden State. He says Thompson is like his little brother in the quote, so let’s not make this out to be some sort of bitter rivalry. It illustrates a couple of things, though:
1) As much as Cleveland’s players have said that they don’t consume sports media or pay attention to storylines in the playoffs, they remain aware of what’s going on. They know they were counted out after two games even though they maintained that they weren’t paying attention to it. Same goes for all of this sniping back and forth.
2) Just like some Warriors were upset about the Cavaliers campaigning for Draymond Green to be suspended, some members of Cleveland’s locker room didn’t take kindly to comments from Thompson and Marreese Speights about James. James declared that he would take the high road rather than publicly responding to Thompson, and he said Monday that he didn’t hear about Speights and Speights’ comments do not matter. To some Cavaliers, though, all of this matters.