Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams entered the league in 2003, so don't blame him for not knowing every random rookie who enters the league. However, the basketball world learned the name Troy Daniels after the Houston Rockets neophyte knocked down a pivotal three-pointer late in Game 3.
And yet, Williams insists he does not know Daniels' name.
Apparently, Williams has waged a campaign of psychological warfare on the rookie, though he won't elaborate on exactly why or how. The one certainty is that Williams steadfastly refuses to learn, say or even acknowledge that Daniels has a name.
As Williams told reporters prior to Wednesday's Game 5, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
It’s always going to come down to the last few possessions as all the other games have. If it takes those shots, especially by the rookie, whatever his name is, that’s making big shots for them, hopefully that goal gets a little small on him tonight.
After Portland's 123-120 win in Game 4, Williams confronted Daniels, and the rookie seemed baffled as to why, both when it occurred and after the fact.
Someone told him Daniels’ name, and Williams persisted in his deafness about the rookie, saying: "Who? Let’s see if the rook ready, whatever his name is."
Asked why he confronted Daniels after Game 4, Williams refused to let inquiring minds in on his secret beef, merely saying, "He know what he did."
When Williams was told that Daniels said he didn't know what he did, he remained resolute, saying: "He know. He know. He’s sitting here trying to say like he don’t know, but he know."
The Oregonian's Mike Tokito asked Daniels Tuesday if he has done something to anger Williams, but Daniels sounded as clueless as the rest of us, replying: "Not that I know of. I didn’t even guard him in the game. It’s just playoff basketball, I guess...It’s definitely over and done with for me. If he wants to hold a grudge, it is what it is."
Insofar as the Blazers lead the series 3-1, the head games have worked, but Daniels thrived in Houston's Game 4 overtime loss. He scored 17 points on seven shots and drained four three-pointers in 21 minutes, giving him seven treys in his last two games.
Perhaps Williams simply felt jealous over Daniels' three-point shooting, as the Blazers vet missed five of his six attempts in Game 4.
Williams also posted a message about Daniels on his Instagram account Wednesday, stating that he has a "tactic with the rook."
That tactic will be on full display in Game 5, which might involve a defensive scheme to deprive Daniels of open looks on the perimeter. Or, it could simply involve yelling at the befuddled rookie to make him so confused that he cannot shoot accurately.
However, Daniels seems to think that beefing with a real NBAer is cool. As he told Tokito: "I was watching him on TV back in the day, and now he’s exchanging words with me after the game." It's like Daniels is at basketball fantasy camp.