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The Warriors’ Way

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Newcomer Omari Spellman receives crash course in the ways of the culture of the team, receives valuable lesson

NBA: Golden State Warriors-Media Day Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For Draymond Green, love will never do without the Golden State Warriors. It is why he wasted no time in signing that $100 million extension in August. It is why he has invested himself into the team as its “heart and soul”. Many view Green’s style of leadership as demonstrative, emotional and vociferous. Those descriptions are true but when I think of Green and his leadership, it is the subtle things, the low-key details that we don’t see makes more of a lasting impact.

Green’s intimate and personal approach to leadership is where he really shines. His awareness of what the team needs at anytime and anyplace is impeccable. Ask Stephen Curry. When he struggled against the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2015 playoffs, he and Green kicked it over brew and BBQ while discussing strategy. After that meeting, Curry finds his groove and digs the Warriors out of that 2-1 series deficit and closed the Grizz out.

After asking Curry about Green’s brand of leadership, how about asking DeMarcus Cousins the same. When the Warriors signed Cousins last season, Green took responsibility for Cousins’ acclimation off the court by sticking with him during the stretch when he was still rehabbing his Achilles.

The state of the Warriors’ world for the season has already been discussed and analyzed-this is a roster in influx with a lot of new and young faces. Green realizes it and in typical fashion, took on one of those new faces in hopes of inspiring and imparting wisdom in preparation for the season ahead.

In the mind of the Warriors’ coaching staff and front office, Omari Spellman is the perfect player for Green to mentor. The parallels between the two players are undeniable. In the raw, the two are cut from the same cloth.

Like Green, Spellman is an always ready quotable. Like Spellman now, Green has struggled with weight and conditioning early in his career. Both of them are also no stranger to on and off court escapades. While the front office sees the similarities, Green noticed them as well. As reported, Green invited Spellman to the Sept. 21 Janet Jackson concert at Chase Center. Spellman declined stating that he was not familiar with her music.

“He asked me to go to a Janet Jackson concert,” Spellman recalled during media day. “ I was like, ‘Nah man, I’m going to stay at home and chill. It was nothing against Draymond. That’s not really my era.”

Alright. Fine. But here’s the thing: Green is aware of the generational gap and knew that Spellman probably didn’t love Jackson’s music like that. He knew this and Jackson wasn’t really the draw in the first place. If she was, Green could have asked his fiancée to go with him and called it a night. Green’s invitation was more than just that. The concert was just ambience. A background soundtrack to the endgame instilling mentorship and guidance to a player that needs it.

Green is a former DPOY, a three-time all star, and a three-time member of the NBA All Defensive First Team. What have you, Spellman done for the game lately other than being a team dietitian’s nightmare? Other than modeling officially licensed gear on the bench in Atlanta? Other than feuding with Josh Hart?

The practice facility is now in chase, I’m willing to bet that Green and Spellman would have stopped by and go over a few items on defense or even worked out for a bit.

Even at Green’s worst, he is still self-aware. He still has discipline and work ethic and can effectively put his priorities as a player over his pleasure principles. There are methods to Green’s madness, and inviting Spellman to the concert was a clear example. This was an exercise in mentorship, team-building cloaked in a concert, and Spellman missed the mark and the lesson.

If a vet invites a rookie, or a newcomer somewhere, there’s a reason behind it and should be treated as a mandatory. It doesn’t matter what the event is because it’s a reason behind the activity. Be it camaraderie or mentorship, the lessons are viable and valuable.

However, to Spellman’s credit, he’s getting in control over his weight. He has lost 40 pounds since summer league and he is actively absorbing information from Green. Since Spellman seems to get it, let’s wait a while before rushing to judgement. Especially if he passes the biggest test to date as a Warrior.

Saturday, Spellman will start at center against the Lakers-filling in for an injured WIllie Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney. The opportunity is there for Spellman to prove himself as a viable player in the new rotation. The chance to perform is all for and on him now. The choice to succeed Saturday and during the rest of training camp is up to him.