The new faces of trashtalking | NBA
“Trashtalking” is a double-edged sword that you have to know how to master. Some players have established themselves as masters of this art, this ability to destabilize their direct opponents with words or gestures.
Each era has had its share of gossips. We will retain Michael Jordan and Gary Payton for the 90s before diving directly into those who have taken up the torch today. Trae Young and Joel Embiid are the new faces of trashtalking alongside Pat Beverley, PJ Tucker, or the master in the field: Draymond Green.
Damian Lillard, the « trend changer »
The NBA remains very vigilant about all possible slippages that may arise from such exchanges and has hardened its tone over the years. She thus pushed the players to evolve by going more towards gestures and a slightly more humorous tone in order to be able to continue to chamber.
Damian Lillard has become the symbol of this evolution with his signature move called “Dame Time”, the index finger on the wrist to signify the hour of “mega-money-time”, the moment when he comes out of the “clutch” baskets.
This new trend was born during the fifth game of the first round of the 2019 playoffs between Portland and the Thunder of the Westrbook-George duo. « That game was probably the most trashtalking game in my life, » recalled Damian Lillard. “Everyone was talking, insulting each other, from both teams, everyone. The players were separated. And it continued after the match, in the media.
The point guard then offered victory to his team at the buzzer of a shot from the logo on the head of Paul George, crowned with his memorable celebration, a wave of goodbye for Russell Westbrook & Co.
This is how celebrations that were more visual than oral took precedence. Dikembe Mutombo and his « Not in my house » of the index have thus found worthy heirs with « Shake the Baby » à la Russell Westbrook, « Ice Cold » à la Trae Young, or a good old « Goodbye » from the hand as we recently saw Joel Embiid do to Kevin Durant after a stormy end to the match between the two players.
« We don’t see too much Kevin Garnett-style or Gary Payton-style trashtalking », he also acknowledged. “It’s not really going to be a verbal assault like it used to be. There are still trashtalkers in the league, but in the era we’re playing in, it’s more with gestures.
Trae Young, the air conditioner
Another leader earned his stripes as a licensed trashtalker during the last playoffs: Trae Young. The Hawks star notably used the hostile context of Madison Square Garden to sublimate himself, especially in the first game which reversed the balance of power between the two teams.
The latter recently explained that it is his strength of character, which he had to forge since his childhood, when he was (already) smaller and more frail than the others, which allowed him to develop this asset. “I thought I wasn’t respected as much as I thought I deserved. So when I did something good, I wanted it to be known! I think it’s a sign of competitiveness and it allows you to have a little fun”.
Author of the floater of the win at the last second, he then split a finger on the mouth before rubbing his biceps, he who had just air-conditioned the MSG.
“Before the match, I knew what I was going to do”, he recalled with a smile. “I knew that if I had a moment to do it, I was going to take advantage of it. And I knew in advance what I was going to do. It’s funny. It’s still basketball, it’s entertainment.
The tradition should continue in the hope that the stage of « manly but correct » is no longer exceeded, Trae Young having been spat on by a New York fan during Game 2 of the series.
In any case, Knicks fans will not miss an opportunity to try to jostle him during his visits to the Garden. The player has already responded on his side by releasing a line of shoes, the “Ice Trae”. The Knicks players savored their revenge by winning the last two regular season games between the two teams, in Atlanta, the last of which was acquired last night with a boosted Julius Randle at the end.
Joel Embiid, the present and the future
It’s hard to talk about « trashtalking » without mentioning Joel Embiid, the Cameroonian pivot also being particularly productive in this area. The Sixers star uses this weapon before, during and after a match, on the networks, in the media… Every opportunity is good to try to consolidate his position as the dominant pivot in the league. We remember in particular his mythical pass of arms with his current teammate Andre Drummond, whom he had fun crushing on the ground before ridiculing him in the press.
His league star status is now well established and the showman is a little less demonstrative. But drive out the natural, and it comes back at a gallop! A few weeks before his last prank against Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid had allowed himself to tease Ime Udoka, former assistant in the staff of the Sixers and today at the head of the Celtics.
the anecdote, told by The Ringer, reports that in the last minute of the game Philly was about to win, Joel Embiid approached Ime Udoka. To the great surprise of the latter, who was probably expecting a more subtle wink, the Cameroonian would have dropped: “Hey, I’m a fucking monster! « .
Draymond Green, the guardian of the temple
The self-proclaimed master in the matter remains Draymond Green. The interior of the Warriors is a mouthful of which we no longer count the exits, sometimes at the limit of controlled skidding.
We must however recognize his skill for chambering, worked over years of assiduous practice. So when he speaks aloud to his teammates on the field, it is often to better tackle the opposing team. Unassailable, untouchable, a veritable sphinx of “trashtalking”.
« You have the opportunity to listen to the best trashtalker every week », he was still pleased at the end of December. “I don’t think there’s a better trashtalker than me in the league, and I’m sticking to that. I guarantee it”.
Draymond Green cited Larry Bird as one of his mentors, and made a point of highlighting the work of Kevin Durant when the two players were teammates at Golden State. He notably remembered cult scenes, when Kevin Durant pretended to wonder who was defending him, or to take an insistent look at the back of his jersey.
« He’s got room for days! » And since it’s Kevin Durant speaking, what are you going to say? Can’t dribble? You don’t know how to shoot? What can you tell him? If you don’t have enough wit to come up with relevant lines, then you’re screwed”.
Kevin Durant has indeed often fed on these games to surpass himself. Because “trashtalking” is above all a source of motivation and elevation. The place where talents transcend to compete for the last word. Because the most important thing is to be able to link the word, or the gestures, to the actions. And in this area, Kevin Durant is one of those who have the most response.
“It’s just competition. Winning matters to us, every win. It’s always good to beat the best team in the conference. » had thus concluded Joel Embiid after his clash with KD, taking the opportunity to show him his respect and his admiration, once the adrenaline had subsided.