OAKLAND, Calif. -- A few members of the Cleveland Cavaliers advocated for Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant to be thrown from the game midway in the first quarter of Monday's Christmas Day showdown.
Durant, who had earned a technical foul earlier in the game, wasn't too fond of the tactic.
"Man, I understand that's a part of the rules, but they didn't want me out the game," Durant told ESPN after the Warriors won 99-92. "They didn't want to win that way. It meant nothing to me. Technically, they were trying to get me to get tossed. It wouldn't have felt the same if they would have gotten me tossed and they would have won that game. So, I moved past that. It wasn't serious."
The incident occurred when Jose Calderon fouled Durant to prevent a fast break. Durant then bumped into Calderon using the ball, prompting official Gary Zielinski to blow his whistle for a second time.
No technicals were issued on the minor altercation and a livid Calderon jumped in the face of Zielinski, arguing that Durant should have been hit with his second technical and, thus, sent to the showers.
LeBron James joined in on the huddle to defend Calderon's stance. The point guard was seen telling Zielinski, among other things, "That's two." On the ABC television broadcast, commentator and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy said, "[Durant] should be ejected, but they won't do it."
Even though Durant was in a vulnerable situation, he said he didn't fear an ejection.
"Hell nah. They're not tossing me in the first quarter," he told ESPN. "They're not tossing me in the first quarter over a little bump. And I heard Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson talking to the ref [to toss me out]. You can ask [Dwyane Wade], [LeBron James], Kevin Love, them dudes, they didn't want me out the game at that point. I wouldn't want them out the game. That's not what it's about.
"We're trying to have some fun and hoop out there and that's what we did."
At the end of the confrontation, Draymond Green picked up a tech. He said all he did was ask a question.
"I just asked how can he yell in his face like that and not get a tech. That's crazy to me," Green said. "That looked like a shouting match between an umpire and a manager. That's how it looked to me. ... He didn't get thrown out. He just went back to the dugout. So, I'm wondering how did he just get to go back to the dugout and not get a technical. I don't know, but I got one."
Green agrees with Durant, telling ESPN: "I saw [what the Cavs were trying to do], but I wouldn't want to win that way."
Durant accumulated his seventh technical of the season, and was close to receiving his fourth ejection on the year. The 2017 NBA Finals MVP had eight technical fouls in each of the past two seasons and only one ejection in the first 10 years of his career.
Many have wondered if Durant is taking a more aggressive approach this season.
"People have been trying to tell me who I am mentally for the longest," Durant told ESPN. "I can't control how people feel about me outside of my game. I approach the game how I approach it and I'm not going to apologize for how I play and who I am out there.
"If you get offended by it, then just deal with it. A lot of people have been trying to tell me who I am because I get techs on the basketball court, which is outrageous to even think about. But I can't control that. I'm just going to keep hooping."
Durant recorded 25 points, seven boards and a game-high five blocks in the win.
This feud with the Cavaliers has gone strong for three-plus years. Durant got a taste of it last season and during the Finals. When asked if he feels fully entrenched in this rivalry, he didn't hesitate to respond back.
"Hell yeah, we won a Finals against them. Of course," Durant said to ESPN.
"It's different, though. It's different players. Kyrie is not here, it's Isaiah Thomas. Richard Jefferson's not here, it's Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. It's a different team, but obviously when it's the Warriors and the Cavs, it's going to be a fun game every time we get together.
"It's exciting for the game, it's exciting for us, great for the fans."