Over the weekend, photos of Draymond Green sitting courtside at an NBA summer league game signing basketballs in a Paris Saint-Germain jersey made the rounds. The reaction was some combination of, “Hey, look, Draymond’s in a PSG jersey”; “Why is Draymond wearing a PSG jersey?”; and, “Since when did Draymond care about soccer?”
As ass-backwards as it may be, ever since FIFA became a “thing” around the league, more and more NBA players have been warming to soccer, finding their spiritual counterpoints in European clubs. LeBron James and Liverpool combine for another one of these unions. James has been a longtime supporter, maybe because, for a while, the team reminded him of home. Liverpool hasn’t won a league title in forever, and each offseason “this year” feels like their best shot at ending the drought. Carmelo Anthony supporting a club that’ll reliably underperform but look pretty good while doing it is natural. The only thing Kobe Bryant likes more than documentaries is rolling his R’s, so choosing a Spanish club was inevitable, and he could’ve done a lot worse than Barcelona.
Here’s something I think about with alarming regularity: In the 2008 Champions League final against Manchester United, Chelsea captain John Terry slipped at the penalty spot and clanged his side’s last chance at silverware that season off the right post in what was considered his second-greatest professional embarrassment.
Last year, Tyronn Lue told a story to Howard Beck about how one time he was watching Diddy’s Making the Band at his longtime friend Kevin Garnett’s house. If you’re a stick-in-the-mud like yours truly, you might understand reality shows like these to be mostly manufactured and de minimis in the grand scheme of things. But to Garnett, the stakes were very real and very high. He’d been watching the members of Day26 bicker and sing over each other. He grew increasingly agitated — and sweaty, according to Lue — by the group’s apparent inability to work together. Finally, Garnett got fed up and headbutted a hole in his living-room wall.
Given Garnett’s avid fandom for Chelsea, and that a Champions League final is a sight more important than whatever Que and Brian were fighting about, he had to have ripped out a support beam with his bare hands and destroyed his entire house after witnessing Terry’s literal fall from grace.
Whether he did or didn’t (and if he didn’t I don’t want to know because I’d prefer to keep imagining it this way), Garnett being a fan of the Pensioners’ ruthless pragmatism makes perfect sense for obvious reasons, most having to do with the fact that describing Chelsea’s brand of soccer means reaching for words like “ruthless” and “pragmatism.”
But there are also the allegiances that make a little less sense, like Green supporting Paris Saint-Germain.
That is, until you really sit on it, and realize there is no pairing more fated. PSG is owned by Qatar, which has a GDP of more than $160 billion. Draymond wore the jersey of a team capable and insistent on snatching up every top player in existence, and more often than not getting what it wants, much to the discontent of the other Ligue 1 clubs, who don’t have oil money to throw at their problems. Having the liquidity to buy players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti, and then some in a single transfer window almost makes a league trophy at the end of every season a forgone conclusion.
So, to recap: a heavily moneyed, nouveau riche club buying its way to a league title via monopolistic business practices. Sound familiar?
As much as I’d like to believe in kismet when it comes to someone choosing their club, Draymond could’ve also been acting as a billboard. Lest we forget, he’s A Nike Guy. And since PSG is one of Nike’s crown jewels in the soccer world and the club has a few upcoming stateside friendlies to drum up more sales, Draymond might’ve been trying to curry enough favor to land that signature shoe he’s been angling for.
There’s also the possibility that he was just wearing it because it looks cool. That’d make sense, too. After all, it’s a fire-ass jersey.