Draymond rightfully won't change after questionable ejection


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Steph Curry on Monday afternoon, following Warriors practice at FedExForum, sarcastically called it "shocking" that the NBA didn't reduce Draymond Green's Flagrant 2 foul from Golden State's Game 1 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals down to a Flagrant 1. 

Steve Kerr, one day after the questionable -- to say it nicely -- ejection, offered he had no reaction to the league's decision before emphasizing how everything is out of the Warriors' hands when it comes to these kind of choices.

"We are powerless in this stuff," Kerr said. "Whatever the league decides, or whatever the referees decide, that's what stands and then we have to move on to the next game." 

All true, and this isn't anything new for Kerr, Curry or Green. They've been here before when it comes to their do-it-all forward finding himself in hot water with the league and the refs. It of course isn't the first time this has happened to the Warriors in the playoffs, too. 

But after Curry's out-loud eye roll, he hit the nail on the head as to how the Warriors are handling their latest taste of adversity and what this means for his longtime teammate.

Don't change. 

"The good thing about what we do, and hopefully what Draymond can do, is just put it behind him," Curry continued. "Continue to be himself, play his game, impact the game like he knows how to do."

Two things can be true from Curry's above quote: Green and Golden State as a whole already have demonstrated in the past that they can put these kinds of bumps in the road behind them. The latter part is even more important. Just because he's dealing with headlines he wishes never had to come to fruition doesn't mean Green should change a thing about his game, or the passion and fire he brings to the court every single day. 

Green is 32 years old. He's in his 10th NBA season and has defied any odds that naysayers placed on him, from high school to his four-year tenure at Michigan State, becoming one of the biggest draft steals in the game's history and already building a Hall of Fame résumé. Asking him to change now is a slap in the face of basketball greatness. 

"I'm never going to change the way I play basketball," Green said Monday. "It's gotten me this far, it's gotten me three championships, four All-Stars, Defensive Player of the Year -- I'm not going to change now." 

Nor should he. The accolades he listed off say it all but don't tell the whole story, and he probably could and should have a few more pieces of hardware to his name.

The Warriors aren't the Warriors without Green, and everyone in the organization from top to bottom knows that to be true. They're not three-time champions without the way he carries himself internally and externally, and they don't reach five straight NBA Finals. Some might say he cost the Warriors another title by getting suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 Finals, but Golden State doesn't get there without him. 

And there could be just as strong of an argument that he should have never been suspended in the first place.

Following his ejection Sunday in Memphis, Green alluded to his reputation playing a role in the ejection on an emergency episode of his podcast, "The Draymond Green Show." On Monday, he still agreed with his statement, along with the fact that human nature of a raucous Grizzlies home crowd could have played a role in why the refs decided to hit him with a Flagrant 2, and that the league in general might have taken some offense to how he reacted to the call as he ran around the court, waved his arms to the opposition's fans and raced down the tunnel. 

He's also proud of his reputation, too. He won't let it define him, though, just like he won't ask anyone to feel bad for him. 

"I play basketball for a living, have an incredible family, an incredible life," Green said. "I'm not picked on, there's other people that's picked on. I'm no victim. I'm good money. I told y'all on my podcast, my reputation is a badge of honor.

"Not everybody can earn that reputation." 

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Whether it be proving himself as a rookie in the playoffs, or making it more and more clear that his game can't be put in a box as some kind of combination of Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace and Rajon Rondo, Green has earned everything in his basketball career. He also knows he's walking a tight line right now. 

His ejection gave him two flagrant points in the playoffs, and four equals an automatic one-game suspension. Simultaneously, no bucket of water is about to be thrown on his fire. If he loses an ounce of his edge, the Warriors aren't whole. Making him alter his personality hurts more than any injury. Draymond is a one-of-a-kind dog whose bite is a superpower on a basketball court. 

He isn't going to change how he plays today, tomorrow or until the last time he laces up his sneakers. The Warriors are better off for that, and they know it.

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