Former NBA player JJ Redick laid into shock jock Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Wednesday for parroting Fox News-ready “shut up and dribble” talking points about outspoken athletes of a certain race, adding that he didn’t “appreciate the undertone” coming from the blowhard sports pundit.
During Wednesday’s broadcast of ESPN gabfest First Take, Russo—who began making regular weekly appearances on the show this spring—railed against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for his dramatic on-court antics.
Russo specifically took issue with Green flipping off Memphis Grizzlies fans for jeering him after he took an elbow to the face in the Warriors’ second-round playoff game on Tuesday night. The always-colorful Green was unapologetic about his behavior during a post-game press conference: “It felt really good to flip them off… If they gonna be that nasty, I can be nasty too,” he declared.
“He’s hard to root for,” the veteran sports radio host grumbled. “Just shut up and play, will you please? America is tired of Draymond Green. I deal with him constantly. The fans, San Francisco fans, are a different story.”
After a confused co-host Stephen A. Smith asked if he really meant “America,” Russo insisted that the entire nation was “tired” of Green.
“Just be quiet and play. We all know he has a great skill set for that team but who in the world is sitting there; he’s so polarizing, I can’t root for him,” the Mad Dog added.
“The fact of the matter is Draymond Green is being unfairly crucified by the likes of you,” Smith retorted. “The fact of the matter is it’s not his job to get along with the Memphis Grizzlies fans, they’re the enemy and he’s trying to take them out. He did have a good point.”
Redick, who joined ESPN last year as an analyst after a 15-year playing career, then turned the volume up several notches by calling Russo out for leaning into Fox News star Laura Ingraham’s infamous “shut up and dribble” remarks about LeBron James. That moment, in which she demanded that the NBA legend stop talking about politics, sparked intense outrage and backlash.
“I want to take a little umbrage with this ‘shut up and play’ because that has the same sort of connotations that the ‘shut up and dribble’ crowd has towards athletes and I have a real problem with that,” Redick sounded off. “Specifically with Draymond—the idea that America is tired of him. You do realize the guy has a very popular podcast where he hosts and he talks, himself, for the majority of the episode and people listen to that.”
He continued: “He signed a talent deal with Turner [Sports] because people want to hear what Draymond has to say. The reason they want to hear what Draymond has to say is because—just like in this press conference—he is real, authentic, and unfiltered. You can’t take away what makes a player great so there’s no shut up and play.’”
Russo, meanwhile, insisted that this was “not a political scenario or race situation,” adding that he was just noting that Green is a “polarizing” figure and he is merely speaking for the millions of longtime basketball fans who agree with him about the multi-time NBA champ.
“I’m not saying it’s a race situation. I’m saying the fans you’re talking about, they talk about athletes that way like you just talked about an athlete,” Redick fired back. “The people on Fox News talk about athletes that way, that’s my issue.”
The former Duke star concluded: “I don’t actually care about the fans that watched Bob Cousy play or watched Wilt [Chamberlain] play. I don’t care! I appreciate they’ve been NBA fans that long but I don’t appreciate the undertone.”