However, Russell was able to walk off the floor on his own power, and even returned to the game in the third quarter. Warriors teammate Draymond Green lauded his toughness while taking a subtle jab at former NBA star Paul Pierce in the process (via Anthony Slater of The Athletic):
Russell rose to his feet, waved off the stretcher and slowly walked to the locker room. His night was presumed to be over, with a medical update expected either after the game or Sunday.
Instead, he emerged from the locker room before the third quarter ended. The Warriors deemed he had only a right shoulder contusion. He started the fourth quarter on the floor and even tied his career high with a ninth 3.
“I’m good,” Russell said.
It isn’t expected to be an issue moving forward.
“Happy he didn’t leave on a stretcher and then come back in,” Draymond Green said. “I would’ve lost all respect. We’ve had some guys do shit like that in this league.”
Yes. That was a direct shot at Paul Pierce.
Pierce infamously needed a wheelchair to get off the floor during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, only to return to help the Celtics earn a win. He later admitted that he simply needed to go to the bathroom.
Green and Pierce have history of their own, with Green mocking Pierce in his final year in the NBA as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. The two engaged in verbal sparring during a regular season game in 2017, with Green claiming that Pierce was chasing a retirement tour similar to that experienced by Kobe Bryant.