Danny Green missed a shot in a basketball game on Friday night. The fact that it was in the NBA Finals, and would have given the Lakers a victory over the Miami Heat and nearly ensured their 17th championship is almost besides the point, at least when putting in perspective with how outsized and over-the-line the backlash has been to his brick. Because it’s fine to be upset about your team losing a huge basketball game. That’s the joy and the pain that comes with sports.
What it’s not okay to do, however, is to send death threats to Green and his fiancee over it. Unfortunately, that’s what a small — but still significant — minority of Lakers “fans” chose to do afterwards.
“I had to ask, I said ‘are you getting death threats?’” Green recalled asking his fiancee, Blair. “She’s like ‘yeah, you are too.’”
Here are Danny Green's full comments on the death threats he and his fiancee were receiving on social media over the last two days pic.twitter.com/AmAaAe2Tz4— Finals Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 11, 2020
Green says he has so many bad direct messages on Instagram that his “delete all” button won’t work, and that his treatment by those “fans” — and I put that word in quotations because I use it in the loosest possible terms — on social media this year has already taught him that he can’t look at it after losses. But let’s talk about that for a second, and how sad such an admission actually is.
The word “fan,” you see, has it’s origins as a shortened form of the word “fanatic,” which is defined in the dictionary as “a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.” The first option to use it in context is “religious fanatic.”
Sports can feel like religion for some. We’re rooting for events we have no influence over, love and hate people we’ll never meet, and cling to the stories of past ages as life lessons we can apply to our everyday existence. But while social media and the internet have given us closer access than ever to these larger-than-life figures we’d previously only seen on our TV screens and in the newspaper in years prior, Instagram is not the battlefield for some online holy war. This stuff is not actually life and death, despite how much of a figurative gut punch it can be when our favorite team drops a close game that would have clinched them a title. There is absolutely no excuse for personal attacks on Green, his fiancee, or anyone else.
If you’re on this niche Lakers website, it’s because you feel a deep and personal connection to this game and this team, and care about it far more than most. That passion is what binds this community together, but we also have to acknowledge that sports are still just sports. I am fully aware that most Lakers fans aren’t doing this stuff, and that it’s a vocal minority that goes this far, but we all have to do a better job of keeping our criticisms limited to the game itself, and calling out those who take it too far.
There has been this toxic mindset among some (on Twitter especially) this year that when players play badly, fans can “bully them into being good.” But when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope turned his play around after a brutal start to the regular season, I promise you it had nothing to do with @LakeShowYo tweeting mean things at him. He didn’t see that and be like “oh yeah, guess I’d better be good at basketball,” and I hope the people that espouse as much realize how ridiculous it sounds.
We can all be better. We just have to want to, and hold each other in check.
We all know Danny Green hasn’t played up to the level we want him to. Even he acknowledges he hasn’t performed to the standard he was hoping to. But he didn’t miss that shot at the end of Game 5 because he doesn’t care, or because he didn’t want to. You can bring up his $15 million salary, you can complain in the comments that he’s shooting 33.3% on threes in the playoffs, and 25.8% in the Finals (8-31). He is more than aware, and no one feels worse about it than he does.
“I’d give anything to get that shot back again, trust me,” Green said while addressing the media at shootaround before Game 6. He admitted he had more time to shoot than he realized, and wishes he hadn’t rushed it what he called “a good look” that would have won the Lakers a championship.
Danny Green says that the treatment he's gotten all season from some Lakers fans has already taught him he can't look at social media after losses like Friday's, which is just an astoundingly sad commentary about some members of this fanbase if you think about it. pic.twitter.com/XOfF7v6mGG— Finals Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 11, 2020
But he also understands that these things happen, and is trying to maintain confidence while playing through hip and finger injuries that he’s never taken the opportunity to use as an excuse, even though he’s also admitted he’s just hoping they hold up and allow him to make it through the NBA Finals. Shooters make and miss shots, and the only opinions about that he cares about come from the locker room.
“You’re gonna make some, you’re gonna miss some. It’s part of the game. I’ve been in that situation plenty of times,” Green said. “I’ve made some, and I’ve missed some. It’s unfortunate it was for us to close out the series. It would have been great to win it, but any person that plays sports, any person that plays basketball knows it doesn’t come down to that last play. It’s never only on one play.
“We could have done so many different things throughout that game. So many mistakes we made. So many things offensively and defensively that we could have changed where it didn’t have to come down to the last play.”
He’s not wrong, but the Lakers still had a chance to win. Green missed, and then Markieff Morris messed up. It sucks, but it happens. These are human beings, and they make mistakes at their jobs just like we do at ours. We can be upset about the outcome of a basketball game without taking it to a personal level.
The Lakers are going to gear up and give this all another shot again in Game 6. Let’s remember that even if the job isn’t done, this team has given us a ton to appreciate during an awful year. Let’s build them up and let them know we’re grateful for that, instead of tearing them down.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.