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  • 16 Sep 2014

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SCORESHEET: Nothing wrong with Danny Green

I would have been so bummed I'd have stayed in my room for two days and not wanted to talk to anyone.

Instead, Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs went to a nightclub and congratulated the other side.

I can understand that. I can even applaud that.

Everybody reacts differently to a loss, or even to two losses at the end of a hard-fought seven-game series for the NBA championship.

I really like the San Antonio Spurs. I've admired them, as an organization and as individuals and for the way they play, for years. It hurt to see them come up short this season, even though I'm also a big fan of Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who obviously learned enormous amounts about basketball years ago from sitting next to me courtside while I covered Trail Blazers games and he scouted for Portland.

Green stirred a lot of comment — much of it unflattering — for being photographed hugging Miami star LeBron James in that nightclub after Thursday's Game 7.

To most Spurs fans, I''m guessing that what happened to their team on the court last week was a crushing blow.

But NBA fans, in particular, need to remember some things:

1. Players hate to lose, too. Even if you don't see that outwardly from them.

2. A lot of times, players deal with losing in different or seemingly unusual or unfathomable ways.

3. Players also are trained as professionals to move on. They've been drilled on this since they were kids. You made a turnover or lost a game? Flush it. There's always the next game, even if in this case it will be some meaningless exhibition game in October.

4. And, frankly, a lot of times players — amazing as it may sound — are not as invested in the outcomes as are their fans.

Think about this.

Fans tend to eat, sleep and breathe their teams. Egos and happiness rise and fall with the latest score or finish in the standings.

Fans do weird things like paint their bodies in team colors, pay enormous sums of money for tickets, hang team flags outside their houses, ignore their families because the game is on TV, endure huge crowds or long lines just to get a glimpse of their heroes at a public rally, etc., etc., etc.

Players go to work (i.e., training, practice, game). Just about every day of their lives. Sure, their egos and emotions are involved, too, but they get paid (most of them very well) for doing this job — and they know they often are judged, as the saying goes, to be only as good as their last game. They learn not to get too high or too low. Otherwise, they'd probably go crazy, because there are lots of highs and lows for them.

Also, a lot of players will be traded or cut. Some might play for six or eight teams in a 10-year span. Loyalty to a city? Which city?

Players learn to move on. Most of them will have to move on at some point.

5. Also — and again I find this especially true in the NBA — players know one another, and often hang with one another. It's like a fraternity.

They've grown up together, in some cases dating to AAU or high school games. They've been to the same camps and tryouts. Or they've been teammates. They also are union buddies. And there tends to be a respect and a bond among NBA players. They're all part of the same club, in a greater sense. It's a pretty exclusive club.

That's why you see players talking or laughing with one another during pre-game warmups, or embracing after a game — while, you the fan, are hating on the opposing player who just beat your team with a 20-footer at the buzzer and looking for your voodoo doll and pins to make sure that guy never does that again.

6. So, I find it totally natural that a young player such as Green would not only be out on the town after a game but also would take a moment to congratulate King James. It's the NBA brotherhood thing to do.

And, from one perspective, I also think it's healthy. And a classy thing to do. I doubt that it was entirely easy for Green, either. It isn't always easy to tip your hat to someone who's just beat you. It doesn't mean, either, that Green won't try his best to beat Miami the next time.

There's no reason to get carried away with the old us-versus-them, hate-the-guys-in-the-other-color-jerseys mentality.

On the court, during those 48-plus minutes, is where that attitude belongs, if you want to go there. But not after hours, in a nightclub.

It is, after all, just a game.

Granted, that was a big, big game Thursday night. But what Danny Green did after it was a little, little deal.

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