Draymond Green on Tom Izzo's heated exchange with Gabe Brown: 'RELAX!'

Jason Owens
·3 min read
WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA - MARCH 18: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Gabe Brown #44 of the Michigan State Spartans against the UCLA Bruins during the first half in the First Four game prior to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Mackey Arena on March 18, 2021 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Tom Izzo and Gabe Brown had a heated exchange on Thursday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and junior forward Gabe Brown got into a heated exchange at the end of the first half of Thursday's First Four loss to UCLA.

As the Spartans headed to the locker room for halftime, Izzo grabbed Brown's left arm from behind while apparently trying to get his attention. When Brown turned away from Izzo, the Spartans coach held onto his jersey. Brown walked away from Izzo before turning around to face him.

The exchange was captured on TBS cameras and immediately became a topic of discussion during the halftime broadcast and on social media.

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Ex-Spartans downplay exchange

One prominent and vocal former Spartan quickly attempted to extinguish any potential fire around the exchange. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green — who played for Izzo at MSU from 2008-12 — urged people to "RELAX!" in a tweet.

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Brandon Wood, who played on the same 2011-12 Spartans team as Green — also backed up Izzo, calling the intensity "one of the parts of Izzo's coaching style I respected the most."

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Izzo: Exchange was 'a normal nothing'

Izzo addressed the exchange in his postgame news conference.

"You guys are beautiful," Izzo said with a chuckle, referencing media. ... "A game like that, that's the question you're gonna ask me? I guess I'll answer it because the media has the right to ask whatever question. ...

"I mean, it was a normal nothing," Izzo continued with another laugh. "It's just that in this day and age, everything's something. It was over a missed switch that we had talked about."

This seems familiar

Thursday didn't mark the first time an Izzo interaction with a player became a topic of discussion, as he referenced during Thursday's news conference. During the 2019 NCAA tournament, Izzo had heated words with then-freshman Aaron Henry during a first-round win over Bradley.

Because that game was also during the NCAA tournament, the incident drew more attention and scrutiny than the average Big Ten matchup on a Thursday night.

Henry, now a junior and the team's best player, declined to make an issue of the interaction in a response not dissimilar to Green's and Wood's on Thursday.

"It's just responding to it, accepting the coaching, not having a pity party for yourself," Henry said in 2019. "Just being a basketball player and go respond."

While demonstrating the support Izzo has of his players, the comments won't shield the longtime Michigan State coach from scrutiny.

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