On February 27th, Draymond Green went on a profanity-laced tirade in the Warriors' locker room. It was halftime of the game that, hours later, would be called the "Greatest Regular Season Game Ever." He lit into his teammates and coaches, reportedly screaming, "I'm not a robot! I know I can play!"
Klay Thompson reportedly helped calm him down, the Warriors returned to the court, and together they pulled off the miracle win behind this shot from Stephen Curry.
Being on the national stage night in and night out must wear at your psyche. Must tear at your patience.
Everyone wants a piece, everyone wants a quote. The world simultaneously adores and despises you. How many people, teams, and leaders have we built up purely to watch fail?
And yet, behind the facade and behind the glittering glamour, these Warriors -- especially Draymond -- are just humans trying their hardest. Young humans, still growing and learning, trying to leave their mark on the world.
If passion overtakes one of them, we can understand. Because unless you live in a glass case of emotion -- the "DO NOT BREAK UNLESS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" hammer bolted to the wall, irretrievable -- you too have, at some point in your life, lost your cool.
I'll keep this relatively short, as it is a little painful to type.
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As most of you probably know, in addition to being a freelance writer and novelist, I am a professional drummer. On Monday, I had a session set up with some old friends, guys I've known since I was a kid. Friends, yes, but insanely talented (and busy) musicians as well. I set the whole thing up. Three in the afternoon at the pianist's house.
That day, I woke up at six in the morning. My wife was on her way to catch a bus upstate. So, being awake, I went about my business. Writing, following up on some old work. By noon, I'd been up for six hours. I was exhausted. Over-tired from this schedule I've been keeping. Wake up, work on my own writing, transition to SBNation editing and content creation, go out and rep cider, go play a show or session, get home late, repeat... "Ah, screw it," I thought. I'll take a nap.
I forgot to set an alarm.
I woke to the sound of my phone ringing. Confused. The sun seemed too low in the .... Oh man.... It was the pianist.. It was four o'clock.
"Hey buddy, are you okay?"
"Ah, damn, sorry man, I guess I... Jesus, I fell asleep for just a moment and..."
He laughed, "Nah, it's cool. We're all here. Just listening to Stravinsky and playing with my cats. We were just worried that something had happened, accident or..."
"Well, I can be there in like 45 minutes or so," I was struggling to get my jacket on, phone to my ear.
"By the time you'd get here, I don't think there'd be any time. You wanna just take a raincheck?"
"I mean, damn, yeah I suppose there's nothing else to do. I'm really sorry dude. I've never ever done this before."
"Man, don't worry! We are having a great hang."
I said my apologies once again and we hung up.
Anger, regret, self-vitriol surged through my veins. Dammit, I'd set this whole rehearsal up and then I'd gone and just completely dropped the ball. I hate to disappoint people. I HATE to be late and especially to miss something entirely. I paced around my room, still waking up. Damn everything. Damn this insane schedule I'd been keeping. Damn the novel. Damn the music. Dammit, just dammit.
I walked out my bedroom door, enraged. Without thinking, I lashed out. Our refrigerator is right there, and I punched it as hard I could. Hit is right on the side, where there's a two inch thick metal slab. Left a huge dent.
Fractured my hand.
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Let's be real, though. Me being a jackass and oversleeping a casual session I'd set up carries none of the weight of Draymond Green losing his mind during halftime of a huge, nationally televised game. But, in my life, I find it helpful to search out the parallels rather than the divisions. Even when comparing a lowly jazz drummer/basketball writer to a world-famous athlete.
Because when it comes down to it, we all struggle internally. We all battle against the allure of our dreams. We all, someday, will have to face a reality which we did not anticipate. Failure will find you, no matter how much you run from it.
I know what it means to care about something so deeply that it can hurt you. Or that you can use to hurt yourself. I'm in a cast for the next month, with a slew of shows to play.
And how is that possible, you might ask?
Draymond Green showed amazing restraint by only verbally berating his teammates during halftime on February 27th during that epic Thunder game. If it was me, I might have done something rash and kicked a table, or headbutted the mascot, or something equally as childish and unhelpful.
Passion needs to be channeled into the right avenues. The trick is to ride that monster for as long as you can. It'll buck and buck, trying to throw you, but you have to keep your head.
A basketball season is like a tiny reproduction of a life. You start, you are born, you progress, you learn. You are challenged at every turn and it is your job to meet those challenges head on, with sly grin and cool head. If you let the moment control you, you're lost.
Passion, anger, empathy, kindness. They are all different elements of an infinitely-sided, almost spherical coin. Throw your piece in the ring, see what comes up.