Draymond Green has been called the engine, the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors, an enforcer whose passion translates to aggressive rebounding, defense and trash talking.
But Green’s candid, emotional reactivity can be a doubled-edged sword that’s been particularly sharp to Kevin Durant’s skin, leaving a wound that could change the players’ and team’s courses.
“Only God can check him.”
The day after a February 2017 home win against the Clippers, I had the fortune of having dinner with a player on the Warriors and questioned how Draymond could get away with violently yelling at Steve Kerr as Green did during that game. He shook his head and responded, “Only God can check him.”
Draymond Green goes nuts, yells at ref, Steve Kerr on the sidelines pic.twitter.com/kQAwsq80pX— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 24, 2017
While some might opine that the Warriors ownership are handling Kevin Durant and his impending free agency with kid gloves, one might also argue that Warriors ownership and management has also turned a blind eye to Draymond Green’s emotional reactivity and its consequences.
Warriors fans are loyal to and appreciate Draymond’s intensity and passion and consider him, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as the homegrown, original core of this Warriors dynasty, appreciating Green’s intensity as an integral part of their championships.
This is still the craziest shit I have ever seen an NBA player get away with lmfaoo— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) September 21, 2018
Steph and Klay better give Draymond half of their paychecks because this man is hitting dudes with WWE moves to get them open pic.twitter.com/8eCChoaj4T
But no one can argue that Dray’s emotional intensity has hurt the Warriors, possibly even costing them the 2016 NBA title due to getting suspended for slapping at LeBron James, and Green’s latest verbal maelstrom may have been particularly vicious toward someone like Kevin Durant and ensured that he and KD will not be teammates after this season.
“Don’t ask me about that again.”
Draymond was reported to have been the first to have recruited KD, and some might say that Green’s frank, confrontational spirit fits well with Durant’s quiet, introspective efficiency when working in tandem.
But what happens if that fire pivots from parallel to perpendicular and Green’s emotion explodes with enough force to trigger Durant’s vulnerabilities?
Though he’s often portrayed as quiet, Kevin Durant has not been shy in showing that he cares deeply about what people think of him, with particular sensitivity to criticism about him joining the Warriors, so much so that he was confirmed to have had a burner Twitter account to defend his decision to join Golden State.
So imagine how Durant might feel and respond after Draymond angrily berates and calls him out on national TV and in front of his team?
Kevin clearly still has hard feelings about what and the manner in which Draymond went after him, as evidenced by not conceding any resolution to their tension, first at the press conference after the Hawks game and again after the loss at the Rockets when he was asked about his relationship with Dray and his countenance hardened and answered, “Don’t ask me about that again.”
Kevin Durant hit with one Draymond relationship question postgame: “Don’t ask me about that again.” pic.twitter.com/OvukBOwvbI— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 16, 2018
Reports from the Athletic’s Marcus Thompson and Yahoo Sports’ Chris B. Haynes have added context to this conflict that suggests it might be more than just transient tension and could have lasting impact.
Thompson reported that Green took exception to feeling talked to like a scrub, called Durant a “bitch” multiple times and criticized Durant’s passive-aggressive handling of his free agency.
Chris B. Haynes indicated that not only is Green and Durant’s relationship still in a fragile state, but that Draymond’s words may have directly jeopardized any chance that Kevin stays in the Bay.
“We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave.”
Imagine if you have an exquisite sensitivity to being called a cupcake for joining a stacked team, and then one of the team members who recruited you to said team says in front of the team, “You’re a bitch and you know you’re a bitch” before proceeding to tell you that they don’t need you, won without you and to leave.
Underrated part of KD vs. Dray:— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) November 14, 2018
”That’s why I’m out” pic.twitter.com/ukEsbKNgMv
Maybe KD was going to leave Golden State no matter what, but any part of him that was considering staying with the Warriors seems to be in a different place, a place damaged by Green’s unchecked aggression, one that has not yet healed and possibly planning a future without Dray.
Draymond and KD are champion basketball players and professionals who are unlikely to let their dynamic get in the way of winning a championship this season, and there’s a very strong possibility that all this will all be an afterthought in June.
But the juxtaposition of their very different personalities and styles in this conflict and the words that have been said and can’t be taken back could be the catalyst for a change that will forever alter their career paths and legacy of this Golden Era.
If you are Warriors management and had to keep one player, who would it be?
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