The subject of endless sports talk over the past few weeks, Golden State Warriors locker room leader Draymond Green spoke out today about his recent 12-game suspension for taking a swing at Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic during a game on Dec. 13.
Green has been suspended four times since March. His most recent involuntary time away came just six games after he served a five-game suspension without pay for “escalating an on-court altercation” putting Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert in a headlock. Needless to say, the sports talk machine has been in overdrive parsing the incidents and the details of the four-time NBA champion’s most recent transgression.
The Warriors are a cornerstone franchise in the current NBA with four recent titles, a groundbreaking style of play and, oh, the greatest shooter in the history of the game (Stephan Curry). Green’s stats may not be gaudy, but he is the straw that stirs the franchise’s very in-demand drink. As such, he’s also a been key player in the league’s success over the past few years, driving rising ratings and, coming up, what’s expected to be a record-breaking new TV contract.
“I’ve heard a great deal of what everyone has said. And normally I would say, ‘F you.’” Green said today toward the beginning of a 50-minute episode of his podcast, The Draymond Green Show.
He went on to explain that such chatter would normally only fuel his fire and prompt a fierce determination to prove his critics wrong. In his words, he had a “now watch what I do to you with all that fuel that you give to me” attitude. In fact, at one point in the past few days, Green said he was ready to walk away from the game, and the $77.7 million h’s been promised by the Warriors over the next three years, altogether.
“But this time I decided to listen,” said Green. And what he heard, he said, was “an opportunity for growth.”
Green went through a list of people who’d suffered because of his conduct, including his wife, himself, his mother, his kids, his teammates and even Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob.
“I failed miserably,” Green said.
He likened his “I’ll show you” mentality to that of a 15-year-old.
“I’ve realized that the responsibility is much greater. The responsibility that’s been placed on me…I’ve handled it miserably. Terribly.”
Green spoke of a visit from his coach Steve Kerr after the suspension. He spoke of the two days he holed up in his man-cave, not telling his children he had come home. Green said was listened to all the chatter of “he needs help,” and felt defiant.
“What I realized is: You’re heading back down the same path.”
“I made a commitment to myself, the Warriors organization, to the NBA, to my family, to The Volume, to all of my partners that I’m going to listen to what they say, and [then] to make my own decision.”
That decision, he said, was to be “a champion of change.”
“That means accepting that there’s a place for growth. That means accepting that you f***ed up and you’re wrong.”
How lasting those realizations will be for a player who also admitted on his podcast that he often played right on the edge, and sometimes went over it, remains to be seen. But he does have a lot of people pulling for him, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver, with whom he had a lengthy conversation about retirement during his time off.
Green will likely return over the weekend when the Warriors are on the road in Chicago and Milwaukee.
The Warriors went 7-5 in his absence, and they are 17-18 overall and in 10th place in the Western Conference.
Green’s suspension without pay cost him $1.84 million.
The Dec. 13 suspension came just six games after he served a five-game suspension without pay in November for “escalating an on-court altercation and forcibly grabbing Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert around the neck in an unsportsmanlike and dangerous manner.”