Who is Draymond Green?
Draymond Green is a do-everything utility man for the Golden State Warriors; the engine that steams their machine; the straw that stirs their coffee; the detergent that sparkles their dishes. He is their heart and soul, their guts and grit, their …
Are you just going to speak in sportswriting clichés?
I’m sorry. I got carried away. Sportswriting clichés are just so fun. Anyway, while Stephen Curry exists as some sort of postmodern, transracial, basketball Neo, it’s Green whose versatility allows the Warriors, collectively, to be a supernova. Their fearsome “Small Ball Death Squad” (also known as the “Lineup of Death”)—in which Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Green present a court-spreading, playmaking and mismatch-impervious nightmare—cannot happen without Green’s ability to guard all five positions.
Let me put it this way: I don’t believe that he’s one of the 20 best players in the NBA. But he is one of the five most valuable.
I see. So why is he in the news today?
On Sunday the Warriors were donnybrooked by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Yes. Those motherf—kers got donnybrooked. I don’t even really know where that word comes from or what it even really means. But I know it happened to the Warriors Sunday night.
Anyway, while getting fouled by Steven Adams in the second quarter during a shot attempt, Green kicked Adams in the balls. He was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul—which gave Oklahoma City two shots and the ball.
But there’s a chance he might be suspended for Game 4. Which would make Golden State—which is already down two games to one in the series—a clear underdog for the first time in two years.
A suspension seems like a harsh punishment for an act that didn’t even get him ejected from the game, doesn’t it?
Context matters here. Green has a history with Adams’ balls, having kneed the s—t out of them just 72 hours earlier. It’s almost as if Steven Adams’ balls owe Draymond Green money. Or was in a “Netflix and chill” and then a “Wendy’s Extra Value Meal and f—k” relationship with Draymond Green’s niece, knew she was catching feelings, and hit her with the “I’m not really ready for a relationship right now” bomb but still kept sleeping with her. Draymond Green seems to hate Steven Adams’ balls the way black people hated Madonna’s Prince tribute.
(Also, just 24 hours earlier, Dahntay Jones of the Cleveland Cavaliers was suspended for a similar act.)
Do you think he meant to do it? If so, would you consider Draymond Green a dirty player?
Yes and no.
To which question?
To both. Draymond Green is a notoriously intense, emotional and physical player who does whatever he needs to do within a range of the rules of the game to create an advantage. He doesn’t just play with a chip on his shoulder. He is the chip. Which, considering his career, is understandable. He entered the NBA as a relatively slow, somewhat chubby, short and positionless player with an extremely high basketball IQ; the 35th pick in the 2012 draft, behind such luminaries as Arnett Moultrie, Marquis Teague, John Jenkins, Jared Cunningham and Tony Wroten.
Exactly. In order to be who he is today, he needed to compete with a smart-and-savvy ferocity that teeters on the edge of dirty. Is he out there trying to hurt people intentionally? No. Does he have a tendency to do competitively reckless things in order to gain an edge—things he knows might lead to someone getting hurt? Yes.
It’s a dynamic similar to what I wrote about Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers last year:
There is a certain code of decorum that exists for guys who’ve been playing basketball their entire lives. Certain ways you move, certain ways you interact with other players, and even certain ways you foul. It’s an implicit agreement that although the possibility of injury always exists, you don’t do things that have a higher-than-usual probability of leading to the injury of other players. Hard fouls are fine and expected, but things like “bridging” (running under someone’s legs while they’re in the air) or placing your foot in someone’s landing space after they’ve taken a jump shot or diving for the ball when you realize it’s probable that the dive will also take someone’s legs out could lead to a fight even if the act wasn’t intentional.
A guy like Dellavedova, though, who’s not skilled enough to stay in the NBA on ability alone, has to exist in that gray area between expected decorum and unexpected decorum to keep his job.
Green is skilled enough to be a decent NBA player without the extra stuff. But the extra stuff is part of what enables him to be an All-Star.
Anyway, while this nature can be—and has been—a gift, this is when it manifests as a curse.
Also, there is quite a sizable contingent of NBA players, front office people and fans who aren’t exactly mad about the potential of a Green suspension. Because it would be a form of karmic justice for a team that seemed to grow increasingly arrogant and insufferable as the season progressed—Curry and Green in particular.
Do you believe that? That they’re due for some unwelcome karma?
Perhaps I would if I believed in karma. But I don’t. I do, however, believe that the champs can do whatever the f—k they want until someone beats them. Which, if Green does actually get suspended, might happen this week.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.