Dime caught up with Golden State Warriors forward and USA Select Team member Draymond Green when he was in China doing work for NBA Cares. The multi-faceted, perennially underrated Green talks to us about China’s relationship with the NBA, the moment he found out he’d be a part of USA Basketball, and his relationship with new Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
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Dime:What are you doing in China?
Draymond Green: I am doing an NBA Cares event. I did a basketball clinic at Dongwon Basketball Academy and an NBA Nations event where they had a skills competition, a free-throw competition, a three-point competition, and all those things.
Dime:What is your role at these events?
Green: I’m there demonstrating the competition and actually playing against the guys in the competition. It has been pretty fun.
Dime:What’s the talent like in China? The kids are probably pretty excited to see you guys, too.
Green: I think the NBA Nations stuff is more like fans and maybe some of them are trying to play, but it is more about fan interaction.
Dime: What is it like in China when the NBA arrives?
Green: It is amazing. I think the NBA has definitely grown over here and it is going to continue to grow. There are a lot of jerseys out here and lots of support. They are starting to take basketball more seriously so I think it will continue to grow and get better. It is fun. It is fun being over here and seeing the support and how much energy the fans have for the game.
Dime: Speaking of jerseys, which jersey are you seeing the most in China?
Green: I’ve seen a lot of Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James – probably the most popular jerseys in the United States.
Dime: What about the shoe game?
Green: I’ve seen a lot of Nike, which is great. A lot of pink. Their local brands. Of the most popular shoes in the states, you see a lot of Nike out here.
Dime: How great are these volunteer events and what are you trying to give back to the fans?
Green: At the end of the day just leave a positive impact. You never know what is going to help change someone’s life. Just trying to leave a positive impact, carry myself in the right way, and represent myself and those I represent in the NBA and my family. That is number one. Also, having fun. This is as fun for me as it is for them. I try to have as much fun with them as they are having with me. They are always excited because not everyday they get to see an NBA player so they are super excited. It’s not everyday I get to spend time in China so I’m super excited as well. I’m just trying to leave a positive impact and have fun with it.
Dime: How did you get involved in this?
Green: I actually know the guy who is really in charge of all these things with the NBA and he talked to my agent so they set it all up. The NBA is doing trips to India, Malaysia, Manila, Taiwan, and all these different places. Taking this trip to China helped expand the brand and make basketball bigger globally. They are going to Africa. All places I am interested in going to help the game of basketball and places that I want to visit. It is a really good situation.
Dime: What moment are you going to remember the most from this trip?
Green: The thing that stands out the most to me is just the way the fans interact with you and the way they embrace you. Walking out of the vans to everyone crowding around trying to take a picture at the Dongwon Basketball Academy, grabbing my arm, and the way they embrace you. Look, people always ask ‘Do you get tired of that or irritated with people wanting to take your autograph or take a picture with you?’ My answer is always that I will never turn down those things because you never know; one day people may not embrace you. It will all come to an end and you may wish to have that back. Embrace it while you have it because it is a blessing.
Dime: Could the NBA play regular season games in China?
Green: I think that is tough. You know I actually did the pre-season games, the exhibition games last year, and it is tough. With doing those games you get a day and a half maybe two days before your first game when you get over here. Then in two days you have another game, but you are back in the states. You start to get adjusted to the time and it is tough. Once you get back to the states you get right back to the flow of things. It is not like you get five days off. It is tough, but I think that it is a good thing to do during the preseason, however, with the demand on the body and the demand of the schedule during the regular season I think it would be really tough to do. I don’t know how you could possibly make that work, but with the time change and all those different things, all the games we already play, that is why I think trips like this are great. To try and bring games over here during the regular season, that could be a lot on the body.
Dime: What is the NBA offseason like for a player in today’s game?
Green: There is not much of an offseason by the time you finish the playoffs – you take a little time off and then back to the workouts. A lot of guys nowadays are doing camps. Summer League. All of those different things. Once Summer League is over we are getting into August and a lot of guys are back with their teams. It isn’t much, but you try and enjoy the time. Obviously trying to get better while trying to enjoy the summer. Take a little trip here and there. Try and enjoy the time off because the grind of the season is hard on you and it is eight or nine months and then you get maybe three or four months off. You try and enjoy it, but at the same time know what your job is, and at the end of the day the teacher that teaches at Oakland Elementary School teaches for 9 or 10 months then gets a few months off. She has to be ready for her job and has to come back in August. Same thing for the NBA. This is our job so we have to come back with our bodies in condition and moving in the right direction to be the best at our abilities with what we do.
Dime: Do you follow free agency or unplug from the game during the summer??
Green: You take them (rumors) with a grain of salt. However, you know some of it is true and some of it is not, but if you spend your career worrying about every rumor that comes up life will pass you by. Your career will pass you by. Rumors are going to come up and that is with every player in the NBA. Some guys may sit and worry about it. I never sit and worry about it because at the end of the day most of it is out of your control.
Dime: What is your relationship with Steve Kerr today??
Green: I have had a chance to talk to him and we talk quite a bit now. When he first got the job he reached out to me like the same night or the next night and I think he reached out to everybody. That was a step in the right direction for sure, and he gained a lot of guys’ respect by doing that. We have been in contact since. I went out to Summer League for a few days to see some of the practices, workout, and really see what is going to be going on. Coach Kerr is a great guy. He is a winner and I am trying to take some of those things out of his book and just move in the right direction.
Dime: How did you learn about the Team USA Select Squad invitation??
Green: It was amazing. I was thrilled. I actually got a call from Bob Myers, our General Manage,r first and he sent me a text saying, ‘Give me a call I am bout to do an interview on the radio right now.’ First thing I thought was, ‘Okay, I’ve just been traded,’ but I hadn’t heard from my agent so I knew that hadn’t happened so I wondered what was going on. Then he called me as soon as he finished the radio and said, ‘Hey man you have been invited. You are on the USA Select Team.’ He told me it was a big deal and I should really be excited because it is a great opportunity. I was thrilled because just to be in the mix and to be mentioned with the USA Team is an honor in itself. That means you are heading in the right direction. Some of the guys that are on the roster now started off on the Select Team and our country and our league has so much talent that not everyone can make the team, so just to be a part of that means a lot to me.
Dime: Biggest area of your game you are working on this summer?
Green: I want to hone in more on my three-point shot. It improved from my freshman from my first year to my second year, but is still not where I want it to be. I want to keep improving on that and that is one of the things I have really, really, really focused on this off-season.
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