Found The Clip 1.0: The Mo Wagner/KD/Draymond 'He Can't Guard Me' story
Introducing a new series at The Finder: Uncovering the tape behind an epic NBA player anecdote.
If you’re like me, you really enjoy it when NBA players tell a funny anecdote about something that happened in a game. A hidden beef. A secret rivalry. A bold move gone wrong. There’s so much drama and intrigue between the lines. It might be my favorite NBA content out there.
Last week, Orlando Magic forward Mo Wagner delivered a banger. He told an amazing tale on Pardon My Take recently that possessed all of the ingredients you want in a good NBA story. A Magic fan site clipped the conversation and shared Mo’s Welcome-to-the-NBA-moment playing Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors.
In telling this story, Wagner clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously which is funny because the story he tells? It’s about him taking himself WAY too seriously. He talked shit to Kevin Durant without realizing it was KEVIN DURANT. And that got him in a world of trouble.
It’s got everything. Surprise. Humor. Drama. Embarrassment. It was such a joy to watch him tell it. On its own, an amazing piece of content from Big Cat and PFT.
But something was missing: the film.
As I watched Wagner tell teh story, I wanted to see how this went down! Sometimes a producer will splice in the actual tape as the storyteller is talking. If not, sometimes a Twitter user will track down the video and post it in the replies. I scanned the replies. Nothing.
This is where my biggest weakness turns into my greatest strength. I have a terrible memory. My wife and I get in fights all the time because I’m an idiot and I consistently forget about the kid’s birthday party on Saturday she told me about last week. (“Remember? I told you about it last week. We talked about it. It’s on the calendar!” Again, I’m a moron.)
As such, there is a 100% probability that I watched this Mo Wagner play live in 2019 and I totally forgot about it. So when that PMT story came across my feed, I immediately put on my Finder hat and went to work. A few minutes later, I tracked it down.
I posted it. It went viral. Over four million views.
When something pops like that, it feels good. It’s a rush. It means you tapped into something. But there was another reason it popped: there was much more to the Mo Wagner story and it made the anecdote he told so much more satisfying.
Going viral on Twitter was one thing. And then I thought: that’s nice, can I do more for my readers at The Finder? Can I go deeper?
So I have an idea. Actually, I’ve been batting around this concept in my head for months. When an NBA player tells a funny story about something that happened in an NBA game, I want to track down the film and break it down Finder-style.
I’m workshopping the name. How’s this one: Found The Clip. We can call it FTC for short. A nice callback to this here Substack title. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to post the clip and score the storyteller’s version of events. How accurate was he? How long ago was the story? Did he leave anything out? Did he embellish anything? Did it make the story better? I’m going to grade it on five separate categories.
So let’s do that for the Kevin Durant/Draymond Green/Mo Wagner story. If you want, we can make this a regular staple of The Finder. I’m going to need your help, though. If you come across a funny NBA player anecdote and want the FTC treatment, tag me on social or email me at email@example.com. Just let me know about it.
OK, let’s go.
Found The Clip 1.0: The Mo Wagner story
1. How accurate was the story?
Here are the details we learn from Mo:
“One of the first times I matched up against Kevin Durant…”
OK, I immediately pull up Basketball-Reference’s Stathead tool (an essential if you’re a die-hard NBA fan). I pull up the games that Mo and KD played each other.
I’m all set. Keep going …
“Obviously in my first year, I’m …”
A clue! Rookie season. He was on the Lakers. So it’s one of these three games:
“Kevin Durant guards me … I’m on like a pick-and-pop three and he fouls me..”
If he’s accurate, I’m looking for a game in which Wagner took at least three free throws. He went 5-5 from the line in the April 4, 2019 game and 1-for-3 in the January 21, 2019 game. Could be either of those two.
“At that point, it was the Warriors … it was him, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins that were on the free-throw line box out … [they ask if he made any] … I made one of them, yeah.”
One of them? Well, then it can’t be the April 4 game because he made all of his free throws in that one. Gotta be January 21!
Let’s see … pull up the play-by-play from that game. Crtl+F “foul by K. Durant" …
THERE IT IS!
One of three! He was right!
Wait, was KD actually guarding him? And was it a pick-and-pop three? Let’s go to the tape.
Check. And check. Who was on the free-throw line box out?
KD … Draymond … Cousins !!!
“I think there’s a replay where you can see Quinn Cook on the sidelines laughing his ass off.”
Oh my god.
I love Mo Wagner. I think you can see him sarcastically say, “appreciate that” to whatever KD or Draymond is saying to him at the line.
And now for the most important detail. Did Mo actually say, “He can’t guard me”?
We don’t have visual of everything he said because the camera cuts to Wagner mid-sentence. But here’s what we see:
I’ve watched it a few times. He’s wearing a mouthguard, which makes deciphering it a little hard. I don’t have Jomboy lipreader superpowers, but in this clip it looks like he’s saying “foul me” instead of “guard me". But he may have said he can’t guard me off camera. He nailed every other detail in this clip so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
We can’t verify from the tape that he said “he can’t guard me” but I’m willing to bet that’s what he said based on Draymond trolling him and the amazing KD face here:
He doesn’t embellish anything. He just tells the facts. He left out some key parts, which we’ll get into later. But he nailed the details with precision.
Storyteller Accuracy: 10/10.
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2. How long ago was the story?
This game took place in January 2019. Almost five years ago.
He’s not talking about his childhood days or some game in Germany back when he was in middle school.
It’s a deep cut, but not too long ago.
Wayback Score: 7/10
3. Did he leave anything out?
When it comes to the actual story of what went down, he delivered the goods. He got fouled. He mouthed off to KD. They clowned him at the line.
That’s a funny story.
But it’s way funnier after watching the actual film.
Because Wagner did this while HIS TEAM WAS DOWN BY 23 POINTS.
And it was on TNT! This undressing was nationally-televised!
But the best part about this clip is what happens after the free throws on the next play. Wagner leaves this part out.
After hearing Draymond Green scream, “Oh, he’s scared out here! Oh, he’s scared out here!" while Wagner misses a free throw, the Warriors go down the floor and run their bread-and-butter play, Cyclone, with one goal in mind: to embarrass Wagner.
KD gets the ball, Klay sets the back screen on Wagner, freeing up Green for an easy layup.
Look how open he is!
Even better? It was KD who passed it to Draymond. Who can’t guard who?
I can’t believe it. They pantsed Wagner on the very next play.
Just listen to Draymond troll at his absolute best (worst?) with repeated OH SHITs while the ball is still in the air:
It’s so good I can’t stand it. That’s two gigantic plot points that Wagner left out.
The score. The next play.
Another element of this story that Wagner doesn’t mention, but it made me giggle: this happened two minutes after Wagner checked into the game for the first time. He couldn’t wait to talk that talk. The stones on this dude.
For his part, Luke Walton subbed Wagner out like two plays later.
I can understand why Wagner left out the score. The KD Warriors were maybe the best team ever assembled. The Lakers were … not that. LeBron James was on that team, but he was out that game and so Wagner’s Lakers were extra short-handed.
The score may not have stuck out in his mind because, hey, it was expected. Still, it is a lot funnier that Wagner talked trash while getting absolutely routed.
And the Draymond layup? Man, it is such a great kicker to the story.
I talked trash … they rattled me … and then they filleted me.
It’s a perfect third act. For the purpose of brevity, I get why he may have snipped those details. But this wasn’t a five-minute monologue. He was in and out in 90 seconds.
Essential details sitting on the cutting-room floor.
Story Completeness: 4/10