SAN FRANCISCO – There was a lot to unpack Sunday during Draymond Green’s 20-minute press conference at the Chase Center podium, his first comments since being given a five-game suspension for his involvement in a skirmish with the Minnesota Timberwolves where the Warriors star had center Rudy Gobert in a chokehold.
Everything Green said was his own truth. They were his words, his reasoning and he’s sticking with them. Two points in general stood out, showing the inconvenient truth of what Green sees compared to the reality he faces.
The starting point is the screenshot that surfaced everywhere on social media. Green’s right bicep clamped down on Gobert’s neck, the 7-footer making an unforgettable face like a 12-footer had grabbed hold of him and was never going to let go. Did Green really need to have a stranglehold on Gobert? Probably not. Was there another way to get Gobert off Klay Thompson and actually try to help de-escalate the situation? Probably.
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Gobert also did break an unwritten-but-known rule when it comes to sports fights like the one the Warriors and Timberwolves found themselves in before either team had even scored a point. He didn’t get his own teammate to stop -- instead, Gobert grabbed Thompson. As Thompson's teammate, coupled with who had grabbed the Warriors guard, Green saw red.
“Any time there’s a situation and a teammate needs you to come to their defense, I’m going to come to their defense," Green said. “And that’s just that, especially someone I’ve been playing with for 12 years. That’s more than a teammate, that’s a brother.
Numerous current and former NBA players actually have defended Green’s actions, at least when it comes to this part of the situation.
“In defense to Draymond in that moment, if I’m Draymond and I’m watching what’s going on, the cardinal rule is two players get into it, go check your teammate,” Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George said on his podcast, “Podcast P with Paul George.” “Go grab your teammate, don’t grab my teammate.”
Golden State Warriors
Patrick Beverley, who spent the 2021-22 NBA season in Minnesota, called out Timberwolves All-Stars Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns for watching idly and not coming to their teammate’s defense.
“KAT bogus as hell,” Beverley said on “The Pat Bev Podcast with Rone.” “KAT bogus, man, straight up. And [Anthony Edwards] was back there too. … I see KAT doing a mean mug face, but then you ain’t doing s--t! Choke Draymond back! So now if I’m Draymond, I’m like, ‘Yeah I choked they center and they homies didn’t do nothing. If we play in the playoffs, KAT I ain’t worried about you, you didn’t even help your homie.’ KAT, nah f--k that. I taught you better than that.”
Players know, for as many frustrations as Green might bring at times, he is the type of teammate you want when going to battle. It doesn’t mean he’s exempt from fault. Every athlete, though, wants someone on their team, in their locker room with them, who they know will stand up for them and take on an army if need be.
Then, there’s the repercussions a 32-year-old in his 12th NBA season has to understand. Green did hold on too long, and even his coach Steve Kerr, who originally defended his player’s actions for getting Gobert off Thompson, agrees. It was a bad look for the league, as Kerr said. And history isn’t on Green's side, which brings us to his other point.
“To continue mentioning like, ‘Oh, well what he did in the past …’ I’ve paid for those,” Green said. “I got suspended for Game 5 of the Finals. So you can’t keep suspending me for those actions.”
In each of Green’s previous two suspensions, last season in the first round of the NBA playoffs and for what transpired nearly two weeks ago on Nov. 14, the NBA mentioned history played a factor in their decision. Green’s right. He has served his time. Has there been a more impactful suspension than the one he served in the 2016 NBA Finals, which ultimately led to the Warriors blowing a three-games-to-one lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
What the NBA is trying to decide now is has Green learned his lesson?
Ideally, each season would come with a clean slate and a fresh start. That includes for Green, too. But that’s not reality, and it’s not human nature. Fans don’t forget, opposing teams don’t forget, referees don’t forget and neither do those in power who can hand down suspensions.
It’s hard to argue against standing up for a teammate in a heated setting, just as it’s hard to argue Green was completely correct in how he did so. It’s hard to argue that issues years in the past should follow Green forever, just as it’s hard for that not to serve as a reminder for all that that’s how life works – on and off the court.
There’s a lot of truth to Green’s reasoning in his actions and who he is as a teammate and person alike. There’s also a tipping point of inconvenience for Green and the Warriors that has lost its holding power, little by little, throughout the years. Only he can decide if everything crashes or if starting Tuesday in Sacramento he can flip a detriment into strength, finding another way to prove doubters wrong.