There were signs early in the season that the Warriors dynasty was beginning to crack. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson weren’t playing like their normal selves and the tension caused by Kevin Durant’s impending free agency was clear.
The latter issue came to a head in an early season loss to the Clippers in which Green and Durant had a high profile argument on the bench at the end of the fourth quarter that spilled into the locker room. Green challenged Durant about his commitment to the Warriors and the rumors surrounding his likely departure from the team in the summer, which Durant took offense too.
Some wondered if the Warriors would implode before the team even had a chance to split up in free agency, but as they enter their fifth straight Finals appearance seeking a three-peat, that clearly wasn’t the case. Green sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols this week prior to the team traveling to Toronto for the start of the Finals, and he opened up about that incident, what was said, and what occurred in the aftermath when he and Durant finally sat down to hash things out.
“The organization, the world, everyone wanted me to go to Kevin and apologize, say, ‘Man, I’m sorry.’ And when I talked to him, I said, ‘Hey man, that probably wasn’t the right way to handle that,’ this, that, and the other. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me and in that situation I did. First off, everyone keeps saying, ‘Oh, Draymond’s emotional and that’s just Draymond,’ and that’s an excuse that they kind of allow you to have and I’m not allowing you to use that excuse anymore. That was a big step for me in my self growth, just going through all those things but him saying that, it made me look at things from a different perspective.
“It wasn’t necessarily him being a free agent that bothered me. It was are you with us or not that bothered me. What I will say is, after I had that moment, one thing Kevin told me is, block out all of that. You see me come into work every day. You see me give my all to this team. Focus on what I see and what I can control, and not what I can’t see and what I can’t control.”
For a Warriors team that’s never really dealt with the real possibility of guys leaving in free agency, it’s understandable that Green wouldn’t have necessarily been ready to handle this situation. Steph Curry was never a doubt to leave, provided the Warriors brought a max deal, and Thompson and Green have both quickly made decisions on their second contracts to stay in Oakland. Durant’s a different animal and it was the first time Green’s had to really deal with how to handle rumors constantly swirling.
Green obviously didn’t handle that well, but it seems he’s learned from that experience and his conversation with Durant both about dealing with that going forward and, at least from what he says here, in not allowing his fiery competitive nature to be a crutch for when he crosses the line.