A history of the Draymond Green, Rudy Gobert beef

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, a moment that had been building for years finally bubbled over as Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and Minnesota Timberwolves big man and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert got physical with each other during a scuffle between the two teams.

A rivalry that culminated with Green putting Gobert into a chokehold actually started way back in 2017, though it did begin innocently enough, with the two all-time defenders battling it out for Defensive Player of the Year.

Eventually, shots started getting fired and became more and more personal, which directly led us to the events of last night. The actual fight came as no surprise to anyone paying close attention to the NBA over the past half-decade.

Below, we present a full history of the Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert beef leading up to their fight.

2017: A quiet start to the beef

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There were some earlier instances of Gobert mentioning Green on Twitter with regard to feeling snubbed for the 2014-15 Defensive Player of the Year award but they didn’t start to directly mention each other until April 2017, when, again, discussing DPOY (via ESPN):

ESPN.com: If it’s fair, is it you? Gobert: [Laughs.] You have to study a lot of things. There’s a lot of factors. I think guys like Draymond Green have had a tremendous season. […] Draymond is great at guarding multiple positions and switching, but for myself, I impact people that I’m not guarding. You know? When I’m out there and one of the guards has the ball, I’m not the primary defender, but he knows that if he drives, I’m going to be there. So he’s not going to play the same way. That’s the way I think the rim protector impacts the game. Any great rim protector doesn’t only impact the game when he blocks shots; he impacts the game because he’s already in the mind of [opponents] before they even get a shot up or before they even drive. That’s what makes a good defensive team.

Innocent enough, Gobert was very professional here, if not outright complimentary of his future adversary.

Green eventually replied to a direct question about Gobert ahead of a four-games-to-zero second-round sweep of Golden State over Utah.

A little more dismissive here by Green but still pretty professional.

Things started getting a bit more interesting when Gobert tweeted ‘Lmao’ regarding a Bleacher Report post asking who the better defender at the time was: Green or Kawhi Leonard.

However, that seemed more like a shot from Gobert at the publication for leaving him out of the discussion for best defender in the league and not really directed at Green.

The final Dray-bert moment of 2017 came right at the start of the 2017-18 season when the big French center answered a question about coming for Green’s Defensive Player of the Year award:

There’s another guy from Saginaw, Mich. that won last year’s Defensive Player of the Year. His name is Draymond Green. (Laughs) Now is that a goal of yours this year to try and get that award. Rudy Gobert: Of course. Every year, I think I’m the best defensive player in the league and I want to be the best. I think being the defensive player in the league is making your team better because, like I said, there’s a lot of things you don’t see on stats. When you make your team better, usually it means a lot.

2019: Things get more personal

Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports

2017-18 then came and went without much incident between the two now-rivals before 2019 came and really started to make this beef nasty.

After Gobert infamously cried in front of assembled NBA media over what he believed to be an All-Star snub in 2018-19…

…Green decided to fire the first direct shot in this war, tweeting that he should have cried over his All-Star snub, too:

Gobert then liked the following tweet reply, trolling Green about calling future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant to sign with the Warriors following Golden State’s 2016 Finals defeat:

And just like that, the battlefield was set.

2022: Steam picks up

RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images
RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images

2021-22 is really when things started to get off the rails between these two, as Green was part of TNT’s All-Star coverage that year and used multiple opportunities to lay into the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

First, while on Inside the NBA, Green made fun of Gobert once again for crying about not making the All-Star Team in 2018-19 (via ClutchPoints):

“One thing I can assure you: If I didn’t make it this year, I wasn’t going to cry. I can 100 percent assure you that. I mean, the man cried on national television when he didn’t make the All-Star team. Thank God he’s made the next three. You can’t cry, Chuck. I said it then, I’m gonna say it now.”

Then, while being compared to Gobert as far as defensive prowess during a broadcast, Green went off seemingly out of nowhere (via ClutchPoints):

After being compared defensively with the likes of Dikembe Mutombo and Rudy Gobert as former Defensive Players of the Year, Draymond Green fired back with what felt like a sudden rage from his heart. “You keep mentioning me in the same sentence with him. We are not alike,” asserted the Warriors star. Kenny Smith followed up by asking if he meant Dikembe Mutombo or Rudy Gobert. “Who you just mentioned me with and I ain’t say Mutombo,” Draymond replied. “We ain’t nothing alike.” … “I think what [Gobert] does on the defensive side of the ball is incredible. I think the way he protects the rim is incredible. But defense is more than just protecting the rim.”

A few days later, Gobert was asked about all of the stuff Green had been saying about him in the media but, to his credit, he took the high road (via Larry Brown Sports):

Speaking with reporters on Friday, the Utah Jazz center was asked about all of the shots that Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has taken at him recently. “It’s just noise to me,” replied Gobert, per Dana Greene of KTVX in Utah. “If anything, when people keep talking about you, targeting you in some way, it means you’re doing something right. I’m just gonna keep trying to be the best Rudy I can be on and off the court and for my team.

A month later, Gobert sat down with NBA reporter Taylor Rooks and was asked about his relationship with Green, one that Gobert said – at the time –  was ‘nice and respectful’ when the duo was around each other in real life and saying he didn’t have beef with anyone (via NBC Sports):

The 7-foot-1 Utah Jazz center sat down with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks to give his take on his relationship with Green. “I’m not talking about him,” Gobert said. “When I see him in person, he’s always really nice and respectful. So as long as that stays the same. I think that what’s being said about me on podcasts, it’s not just Draymond, it’s a lot of guys that try to discredit what I do every night, who I am as a player. It’s part of it. But for me, I will always take it as respect. If I was an average defensive player, an average player, they wouldn’t talk about me. I will always take it as respect.” …. “Once again, when I talk about Draymond, or anyone else, I show respect. If these guys want to disrespect me, it’s their choice. I’m a quiet person and some guys are different, and they’re going to express their mind and it’s fine. People love beef. Beef generates more interaction. I get it. But I’m chilling. I don’t have beef with anyone.”

Spoiler alert: Things would not stay ‘nice and respectful’ between the two.

Bleacher Report provided more quotes by Gobert after that question about Green:

Rudy Gobert on Draymond Green: There’s no beef on my side. I mean, as long as you keep your respect. You know, you stay in line, and respect my family and stuff like that. You know, he just competitiveness and he just, you know, I’ve, once again every time I talked about Draymond, anybody else, I show respect/ So these guys want to disrespect me, it’s their choice, you know, and I take that as respect because I know that’s, you know, its competitiveness and knowing I’m a quiet person, but some guys are different personalities. And, you know, they’re gonna, they’re gonna express their mind. And it’s fine.

Gobert also defended himself against the belief that Green was a better defender at the time:

Taylor Rooks: This whole situation, I think, is very fascinating to me this whole Rudy Gobert-Draymond Green thing. So I want for you, why do you feel like that relationship is where it is right now? Or, I guess, lack of relationship? Rudy Gobert: Yeah, I mean, when you say where the relationship is, it’s because of what he’s saying about me, because I’m not talking about him. You’re right. So when I see him in person, he is always really nice and respectful. Rudy Gobert: It’s either right or wrong? Once again, there’s data, there’s numbers, there’s, you know, a lot of people that know this game, that watch the game, and that are kind of neutral, you know, that don’t have anything to gain, and they can make their own opinion. So for me, it’s like, I’m never going to talk down on anyone. You know, I respect all these guys know that. Once again, like I respect every guy in the league, I think everyone for sort of being in this league is already something. So the great ambition, and it’s hard to also be in this league and sustain this league and be consistent, you know, and they will tell you the same. So I show respect, you know, and if you disrespect me in persons different story, but we can say whatever you want.

However, things got a bit spicier from the Gobert side when in Oct. 2022, video surfaced of Green punching former teammate Jordan Poole during a heated moment in a Warriors practice. Gobert, who just half a year earlier said he respected everyone and had no beef with Green, thought that would be a good time to fire his first direct shot at the Warriors star, tweeting:

Grade-A trolling.

2023: Irony and the grand culmination

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype