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In the LeBron-Draymond Post-Finals Petty War, Everybody Wins

Since the NBA Finals ended, Dray and King James have exchanged barbs via custom T-shirts, Instagram captions, and podcast interviews. Turns out beefing is good for business.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Forget the Finals. This is the drama we were promised and rightly deserve. Maybe the third installment of the Warriors-Cavs trilogy wasn’t what we hoped, but the post-production work has been top notch. It’s the best bonus commentary since Ben Affleck reviewed Armageddon.

Thursday’s championship parade wasn’t so much a celebration for The City as it was an opportunity for Draymond Green to put a year-long revenge plot in motion. He wore a custom “Quickie” shirt, took time to comment on LeBron’s new cut, and gave an interview where he wore shades and admitted he’s “petty.” It was a hell of a day.

Paolo Uggetti nailed it: The Warriors bring “out the best (and worst) of everyone else.” Especially their main foil. LeBron stopped getting swole just long enough on Thursday to take a “that’s what she said” swipe at Draymond’s Quickie shirt. Sure, why not.

Devotees know this is merely the latest episode of Warriors-Cavs: This Time It’s Personal. LeBron and the Cavs shot the pilot last year at a Halloween party when they propped a skeleton up on a drum set stamped with “3–1 lead.” There were also festive tombstone cookies with the names of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry on them, made all the more fun by the fact that Klay famously didn’t “get it” in the most Klay way possible. Thompson also called it “not respectful” and “childish.” He must have loved Draymond’s performance.

No one who’s paid attention to any of this thought it would stop there. And it did not stop there. Late Thursday evening, LeBron went on everyone’s favorite player pod, Road Trippin’ With R.J. & Channing. The episode posted early Friday morning. James entered around the 30-minute mark and settled in with a glass of wine. White. Channing Frye initially asked LeBron if he wanted red, which LeBron did, only to realize Frye passed him an empty decanter. (Not unusual for the show.) The conversation quickly turned to Draymond and the Warriors, which bummed out Frye. “If I had scored eight to 12 points I would have been talking the most shit. Don’t let me. … I would have Wikipedia’d this,” he said. “I would have had the internet killing [Draymond]. … But I can’t say shit. This fucking sucks.”

That left it to LeBron. He laughed off the “that’s what she said” line (“Minding my own business,” he replied when the topic came up) and also whether losing to the Dubs really made him shave his hair (“Of course not.”). Toward the end, Cavs sideline reporter and pod cohost Allie Clifton asked LeBron if, as Draymond suggested, he “started the superteam, bro.”

To review: They got in LeBron’s head so much that his head issued a statement about being in their heads. Meta shade is the best shade.

Back and forth. Back and forth. They’re really developing the plot. First the tombstone cookies and the skeleton drummer. Then the Quickie T-shirt/new haircut/superteam/“that’s what she said” clash. Jason Statham will join the franchise next year.

“It’s all good,” James said on the pod about the tête-à-tête with Draymond. (LeBron gave the Warriors full marks and called KD “incredible” more than once.) All good indeed, especially when you consider the universal benefit to the parties involved. LeBron gave his interview to Road Trippin’, which he recently signed to his video and podcast company, Uninterrupted. Green has a pod called Dray Day — which is also part of the Uninterrupted family. The more they all talk about each other, the better it is for business.

That point wasn’t lost on anyone. They finished off the latest Road Trippin’ by toasting LeBron for helping make the show a success, and they sent me the episode in advance for promotional purposes. They know what we all know: The more behind-the-scenes morsels they serve up, the more we happily consume, the more they make out. Unlike the Finals, everyone wins this way.

It doesn’t really matter what percentage of Warriors/Draymond vs. Cavs/LeBron is a work or a shoot or kayfabe or whatever the proper pro-wrestling equivalent here would be. (Where’s the Masked Man when you need him?) Wanting to beat an opponent on the court invites yapping. Can you imagine being that good at something, and beating someone else who’s that good at something, and then having bragging rights for a year? (My God, what a monster I’d be; I recently derailed my buddy Dan’s family barbecue by getting into a tense game of cornhole with him, much to the shame and horror of my wife.) But beyond that, and of much greater importance here, LeBron, Draymond, and the Road Trippin’ gang seem to understand that competition and collaboration can be useful frenemies. If there’s heat, why not harness it and forge something mutually beneficial?