The Pistons Lost To The Warriors, And Then Kept Losing
2:58 PM EST on February 1, 2021
The Warriors presumably enjoyed Saturday night's 118-91 blowout against a red-hot Pistons team fresh off some statement wins over the Sixers and Lakers. (Kidding: Those wins are indeed real, but the Pistons may be the worst team in the NBA.) Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins combined for 48 points, Draymond Green played a flawless point forward, and at no point did Detroit stand a chance. In the dignity-salvaging department, there was not much else for my sweet and beloved Pistons to do but take the loss and move on to the next game. True to form, they couldn't even manage to do that.
Right after the game ended, Detroit's backup-backup shooting guard Rodney McGruder, who played the final six minutes of that night's game (his fourth game of the season), strode over to the Warriors bench to chirp at two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson, instigating what could have been the most low-stakes and anonymous beef of all time.
In a cruel twist, it was precisely the sad nature of the beef and its parties that elevated it to national curiosity. Klay Thompson, out this season with an Achilles tear, had joined the Warriors broadcast for the night, and began the pile-on as the camera showed McGruder heading to the tunnel. "I don't know, this dude might be out of the league soon," Thompson said. "He's probably mad about that. Who knows? He's over here trying to start something like he's a good player or something. It's like, bro, get out of here. He might be—sorry, I'm done."
Thompson was done, but next came an incredulous Draymond Green, who muttered, "Rodney. RODNEY. Fucking tough guy," and said various other mean and devastating things in his postgame presser, which you can hear in full below. While lamenting a league-wide unearned toughness problem, Green offered an explanation for McGruder's outburst. As he told it, at some point in the first half of the game, Toscano-Anderson made a rude comment to Pistons starting shooting guard Wayne Ellington, and McGruder was compelled, over an hour later, to defend Ellington's honor.
Ellington confirmed this story in his postgame interview with reporters, though his "defense" was not really flattering to McGruder, who came across as being more flustered than the player who actually was insulted.
"Rod is a man of respect, like myself, and I felt like he took offense to whatever the guy was saying to me in the first half. I just kind of laughed it off and kept on going," Ellington said. "Obviously, it stuck with Rod, and as my brother, he took it upon himself to go and take the temperature on the situation. And that's what men do. We talk to each other eye-to-eye and face-to-face." OK. A dismal affair all around. For the Pistons, anyway.