It’s been a hectic and unfortunate week for the Golden State Warriors. They’re mired in a three-game losing streak, which is representative of the bigger picture: they’ve lost 12 of their last 16 games, and haven’t had a winning streak since winning five in a row between October 27 and November 3. One of their All-Stars, Klay Thompson, is desperately trying to break out of a funk. One of their other All-Stars, Andrew Wiggins, has been benched.
But nothing compares to the Draymond Green situation. On Tuesday night, during a close loss, Green struck Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkić in the face, earning his third ejection of the season, despite playing in just 15 games. That resulted in an indefinite suspension for the future Hall of Famer, with no timeline for his return. All we know is that he’ll be seeking help and growth, attending counseling, and that we’ll be rooting for him.
So will one of his former teammates who had a front row seat to Tuesday’s action: Suns superstar Kevin Durant, who was inactive in the game due to an injured ankle.
Durant and Green have had a contentious relationship of their own, getting into a spat when they were teammates that resulted in a team-issued suspension for Green. But despite speculation from fans, Green and Durant have long since buried that hatchet. They’ve been seen being friendly on many occasions (the picture in this article is from earlier this year), and Green even hopped on KD’s podcast for the two to talk about their prior incident.
For Durant, the latest string of Green misbehavior — striking Nurkić, choking Rudy Gobert, and punching his then-teammate Jordan Poole — stands in stark contrast to the Green of old.
After the suspension was levied, Durant talked to the media about the incident, saying that he hopes his former teammate “gets the help he needs.”
"I hope Draymond gets the help he needs."— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 14, 2023
Kevin Durant speaks on Draymond's flagrant 2 on Nurkić pic.twitter.com/obl3IFmy0K
“That was insane to see,” Durant said about Green’s violent reaction to Nurkić. “Glad Nurk is all right. Never seen that before on a basketball court in an NBA game. I hope Draymond gets the help he needs. It’s been incident after incident. I know Draymond, and that’s not — he hasn’t been that way when I was around him, coming into the league. So hopefully he gets the help he needs, and can get back on the court and put all this stuff behind him.”
KD is right that this is different for Green. He’s always had a reputation for being fiery and trying — and often failing — to toe the line between intensity and dirtiness. But his past behavior would be described as reckless and dirty at worst, whereas the last year has seen a shift to violent and impulsive.
Nurkić, to his credit, also wished the best for Green. After the game, he made his feelings fairly clear, saying, “What’s going on with him, I don’t know. Personally? I feel like that brother needs help.”
Jusuf Nurkić on the incident with Draymond. Says he’s glad he didn’t get choked pic.twitter.com/dgQSlGiW79— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) December 13, 2023
Those were very fair words from Nurkić, who wasn’t obligated to say anything else. But he added some kind and empathetic words on Wednesday, saying, “I have a lot of respect for him, obviously, even before this. I still have it. I don’t know what people go through. It’s not our problem, but he’s an NBA champion for me, Hall of Famer still. I want him to succeed and still be the Draymond we all know. I have no bad feelings or any hate toward him.”
Much respect to Durant and Nurkić for supporting Green in getting help and growing as a human, instead of piling on him. It goes without saying that we’re all helping for the best for Dray, and that this is much bigger than basketball.