I talked to Eddie Johnson recently. You know Eddie Johnson? Sweet jump shot. Timeless scorer. Averaged 16 points a game over 17 NBA seasons in the eighties and nineties and scored nearly 20,000 total. He hosts “NBA Today” on SiriusXM NBA Radio now, and his bio on the Sirius site says Johnson retired with more points off the bench than any player in league history.
Anyway, I spoke to him by phone for a Warriors story that will run a few days from now. And as so often happens, the most interesting dialogue didn’t really fit the article.
First, you should know that Johnson loves the Warriors.
“You can go all the way back… Now, way back in the day you could hand check. That makes it hard to compare. So let’s say, to make it easy, that no hand checking is allowed: No one can match up with the Warriors. No one. … They have the three best shooters arguably in the history of the game. Stephen Curry, in my opinion, is the best shooter in history. And Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are right behind him.”
Keep that in mind as you read the text that follows. It was not produced by a Charles Barkley ally who is out to assassinate Golden State’s reputation. Johnson is more balanced than that.
But here’s the thing. He seems to think Draymond Green is overrated. Or at least he doesn’t buy into the idea that Green is the secret force behind the Warriors’ success – a school of thought that has many subscribers inside the game.
Eddie Johnson: “I love Draymond. He’s taken advantage of his opportunity to be great, and he’s surrounded by great players. The point is, Draymond is always wide open. Warriors fans get mad at me for this. Take any player in today’s game – and that’s not to say they can execute and make decisions like Draymond; he’s great. But he’s always open. They’ve got to switch off him. When he gets the ball, he has a clear view of the court. And when he swings it, he swings it to Klay Thompson. He swings it to Kevin Durant. He’s got a view of the basket no one’s had in a long time. But because he’s unselfish, the ball swings. But not just from him. From (Andre) Iguodala. From Shaun Livingston. It’s what makes this team so beautiful. And Draymond epitomizes it all. He takes advantage to the utmost.”
Not a rip job by any means. But not exactly effusive praise for the Warriors’ triple-double king. And if you’re not sure which side of the fence Johnson is swaying toward, consider his closing argument, delivered with a chuckle:
“If I was him, I’d shut up a little bit, because the one thing he never wants to do is leave this team.”