Building off a 2014-2015 campaign in which a.) Draymond Green was potentially the team’s all around MVP (even though Stephen Curry deservedly won the actual MVP trophy), and, b.) the Warriors won a champion, Draymond continued his strong play in 2015-2016, averaging 14 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game, posting a PER of 19.31. He was voted (by the coaches) onto his first ever All Star team, leading to this heart-rending moment with his mother:
He grimaced and growled his way into the hearts of millions of basketball fans around the world. People raved about his "tenacious defense" and "incredible motor and hustle." He was called the "heart and soul" of a Warriors team that went on to set an all time NBA record by winning 73 games.
His outspoken, candid style was a breath of fresh air. You knew any interview with Draymond was going to be an instant classic.
Wait, wait. Not that one, sorry.
When pressed on matters of importance, such as the flooding in Houston during the playoffs, Draymond could be incredibly powerful in his message, making sure that nobody took his actions lightly.
On the court, he was a two way monster. Offensively, he helped spearhead a motion-based, versatile attack that paved the way for Stephen Curry to hit an NBA record 402 three pointers. He was able to act as a selfless distributor, as well as rebound on both the offensive and defensive ends and score the ball. For goodness sake, the man registered 13 triple doubles last season, trailing only Russell Westbrook’s eye-popping 18 triple doubles. 13 triple doubles in 81 games played comes out to a triple double every 6.23 games.
Defensively, he was as feared and as versatile a defender as this league has seen in quite some time. No longer assumed an up and coming player, he proved himself among the top two defenders in the league along with the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who he finished behind for the second year in a row in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year voting.
And then—to borrow a phrase—the kicker of all kickers happened that finally shifted Draymond’s tides of goodwill:
Coupled with this:
Regardless of where you stand on that second clip, it (along with a slew of other incidents), changed the public’s perception of Draymond. All of a sudden the Warriors—fronted by a brash, confident Green—were the NBA’s bad boys. They were suddenly deeply, irreversibly despised. They somehow turned LeBron James—LEBRON JAMES—into a lovable underdog in the eyes of the national media.
Things like this started popping up with surprising regularity:
Those same casual fans, who a month or two earlier had fawned over Green’s motor and intelligence, were suddenly denouncing him for being overly rugged and a danger to those around him on the court.
The Warriors, in large part due to Green’s absence in Game 5, coupled with his hesitant, tentative play in Game 6, ended up folding in the Finals, becoming the first team to lose after going up 3-1.
The memory has only grown more bitter and rancid with the passing of time.
Okay, we are just gonna move along here.
Luckily, Green’s antics helped (somehow, man, that was a strange turn of events) land Kevin Durant, who the Warriors were able to woo in free agency. Could they have brought him aboard had they won the title? There’s no way to know, but I’m gonna just say, "hell nah, no way."
[[Side note: Did Lacob instruct Green to start handing out tickets to the ball show to prove his own "light years" statement? I’m gonna go with "hell yeah, that ish is downright Illuminati."]]
So then there they were. The team had squandered a championship, but had potentially assembled the greatest squad ever. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant all accepted invitations to represent Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Things felt great, things felt good. The Warriors only had to suffer their ignominious defeat for a matter of days, not months, as the Durant signing washed that disgusting taste out of the mouths of both the team and their fans.
And then this. Which...um...
And then [[stares at keyboard even deciding whether or not to link]] this. I mean, you gotta admit, "Drayzilla" has a certain je ne sais quoi to it.
So, how do we feel about Draymond’s season (and subsequent headline-grabbing afterseason)? Should we feel pride in the fact that he finished seventh in the league’s MVP voting, even receiving two second-place votes?? Should we revel in his unparalleled versatility and inventiveness on court, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
Rooting for sports figures can be an exhausting and confusing process. We think we know these guys, and sometimes we feel we can relate to their on court personalities. Or, heck, even their off court personalities, especially when it’s a player as forthcoming and open as Draymond. But then, you remember he’s still in his mid twenties, with a crap load of money, still figuring out who he is in this world and where he fits.
I for one, prefer to concentrate on his on-court exploits, and let the other things fall where they may. I don’t pretend to know him, and I don’t pretend that I would have behaved all that differently if I’d been young and famous with the world at my fingertips. (Also, seriously, watch those fingertips. Can’t be pressing wrong buttons on snapchat dog. You’re just playing with fire there. Quick pro tip: Two phones. One for work, one for play. Problem solved)
It’ll be very interesting to see how Draymond Green reacts to being the NBA’s "evil man" for an entire season. I mean, heck, the whole team is going to have to deal with it. Durant will be booed mercilessly in opposing teams’ arenas. Green will be booed mercilessly. There will be approximately 1,450,253 snapchat/junk jokes made at his expense. But, hey, I guess that’s the world we live in.
Junk jokes and snap-quick judgments by casual fans that change with the blowing winds of time.
Bring it on.