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Five Quick Questions About the Draymond Green–Tristan Thompson “Face Mush” Incident

Beginning with this inquiry: What the hell happened?

A photo illustration of Tristan Thompson and Draymond Green AP Images/Ringer illustration

The ESPYs are a chance to celebrate the greatest athletes and moments in sports. The ESPYs afterparties are a chance to carry out lingering feuds and create drama. This season, Draymond Green and Tristan Thompson won the awards for most outstanding feud and drama, as reports of the two fighting at the afterparty came out this week. Here’s what you need to know about the Thompson-Green saga:

What the hell happened?

During LeBron James’s ESPYs afterparty on July 18, Thompson reportedly “face-mushed” Green—in layman’s terms, he hit him. However, LeBron’s soiree didn’t allow phones or cameras, eliminating:

1. The potential for bad, wedding-like hashtag puns, like #LeAfterParty

2. Any chance of this altercation going viral

3. Any clarity about what happened

“It was a sucker punch,” one unnamed source told The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II. “But, to be honest, it wasn’t really a punch. It was more like a shove.” Other partygoers, per Thompson, described it as a “legit punch, maybe even a quick one-two.”

LeBron and Kevin Durant reportedly formed a momentary superteam and broke up the exchange. Then everything was suddenly fine (???) the rest of the evening. I guess no matter how strongly you feel about another person, if LeBron tells you to let it go, you have to let it go. Or maybe LeBron reminded T.T. that it would be OK—he wouldn’t be seeing Green in the Finals next season … or be in the Finals, in general, ever again. Speaking of the Finals …

How did this clash start?

After getting pitted against each other for four straight Finals, it’s no surprise that there is beef between Thompson and Green. The mutual dislike can be traced back to Game 1 of the 2018 Finals. As the last seconds of overtime—hi, J.R.—dwindled into an inevitable Cavs loss, T.T. tossed a late elbow at Shaun Livingston and was ejected. On his way out, he passed Green, who taunted Thompson with that unique, face-level clap of his, in which his hands smack together like he’s trying to kill the world’s most overweight fly. Green yelled, “Get him outta here!” repeatedly. Thompson bit, and pushed Green:

Fast-forward to Game 4, after Golden State swept Cleveland. Thompson tried to congratulate Green; Green responded, “I don’t fuck with you,” and passed him by. A few days later, during a Warriors championship parade interview, Green elected to be more subtle—“a lot of guys in this league is soft,” he said—before going full Draymond, taking the mic out of the interviewee’s hand and saying, “I told one of them dudes from the Cavs after the game. He tried to shake my hand. I said, ‘Tristan, we ain’t cut the same.’”

Why is this story coming out now?

Unclear, but it is positive PR for Draymond Green, your favorite hot head’s favorite hot head. For once, he’s not the instigator, and according to the reports, he didn’t fight back. Someone in the room was more irrational than Green. At this point in his notoriously heated career, that’s a win.

That said, when the report came out weeks after the altercation, Green took to Instagram, with liberal emoji and exclamation point usage, to call it “inaccurate”:

What parade is Draymond referencing?

In his IG story, Green wrote, “They may want to cancel that parade too lol. Nah keep the parade that city won’t have any for a while. I forgot Bron left.” He’s talking about the page created on Facebook called “Tristan Thompson Parade Because He Punched Draymond Green,” scheduled for October 13. Event organizer Connor McKenney wrote “Parade in Cleveland on October 13th (Tristan’s number) at 3:10 p.m. (For obvious reasons). We would all like to punch Draymond in the face, so we need to celebrate someone who (probably) did! Bring canned goods I guess. Go Cavs.” There are 5,100 people listed as “going,” and 17,000 interested.

That’s … a lot of support for Tristan?

Or just a lot of distaste for Draymond.

This incident highlights Thompson’s tricky position in the league: He is coming off a poor Finals performance and doesn’t have LeBron as his rock entering this season, though the two are still connected through their agent, Rich Paul, who represents both under Klutch Sports. It’s often joked that LeBron got Thompson the five-year, $82 million contract he has today, which is apparently still not enough incentive to behave at his ESPYs afterparty.