How Draymond Green went from injuring Marquese Chriss to mentoring him


For much of Marquese Chriss' tenure with the Warriors, Draymond Green has been a mentor for the 22-year-old. 

From defending the young forward's maturity to giving frequent advice, Green has been an integral part in helping Chriss revitalize his career with the Warriors. But on the eve of training camp, Chriss entered his sixth season with mixed feelings towards Green. During Chriss' rookie season in Phoenix, Green accidentally kicked Chriss' hand, leaving the big man with a dislocated finger. 

"It was surreal for me because, honestly," Chriss said on the Runnin' Plays Podcast. "I didn't know whether he liked me or not."

The incident happened nearly four years ago, in a 138-109 Warriors win during the 2016-17 season, when Green tried to draw contact while attempting a 3-pointer and kicked Chriss in the process. 

"He went up for a three and he was trying to draw a foul, and I backed up," Chriss said. "And he tried to shoot it in his leg swung up and I put my hands behind my back and tried to move my hands out of the way, and his foot caught my pinkie, and it just dislocated my pinkie to the side." 

Despite the injury, Chriss didn't miss any time. But the episode did little to erase Green's fledgling reputation around the league. Months prior, he'd received a flagrant foul for kicking Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams in the midsection during the 2016 Western Conference finals.

Two days before kicking Chriss, Green earned another flagrant foul for kicking Houston Rockets guard James Harden in the head in a 132-127 loss. Worse, Green's actions towards Chriss caused the ire of Chriss' mother, Shawntae.

"My mom was mad," Chriss said. "My mom holds grudge... She was mad."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

History aside, Green was one of Chriss' biggest allies during training camp. As Chriss -- who signed a non-guaranteed deal in September-- tried to make the roster, Green gave Chriss sound advice upon arrival. 

"This is your opportunity to f--k up," the veteran forward said. "You're going to have an opportunity to show yourself. Take advantage of it."

Chriss responded, averaging 9.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game during the preseason. His play earned him Golden State's final roster spot. Along the way, Chriss discovered Green's unique leadership style. Growing up in Saginaw, Mich., Green frequently saw his style cause friction with those around him. 

"I took it so seriously," Green said last December. "I didn't have a bunch of friends. Even in the NBA, I don't have a ton of friends. It's different for me. If you don't got what I got as far as passion goes, as far as the hate for losing that I have, you would never understand it." 

"If you're passionate about this s--t, like I'm passionate about this s--t, we don't bump heads. That's just what it is. If you're not as passionate about this as I am, if you're not as passionate about winning as I am, we're going to bump heads and that's just a fact."

Green's brash style has pushed teammates the wrong way, including Kevin Durant, who credited a sideline spat with Green as one of the reasons he left the Warriors in free agency last summer. But Chriss says he appreciated the approach.  

"I think if he talks mess to you, that's how you can tell he likes you. And I think other people will agree with that. I think if he talks mess to you, he has a sense of relationship with you." 

Green's leadership was needed last season, considering Golden State's unusual position. With Durant gone to Brooklyn and Klay Thompson and Steph Curry missing significant time, Green was one of the lone holdovers from Golden State's dynastic run. Nonetheless, Chriss said Green was a positive influence. 

"He was like a big brother I think for everybody. He was just like a player-coach. And Steph was there as much as possible, and so was Klay. But I think with Draymond being on the floor it's a different presence," he said. "I went to him as much as possible. Sometimes I felt like I was talking too much, and he tells me I talk too much sometimes. It is what it is. It's different. I've never been around somebody who's so passionate but at the same time so charismatic." 

Perhaps Green's biggest contribution to Chriss' performance came in the preseason, when the forward defended Chriss' early career-struggles with maturity in Phoenix. 

“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green told reporters following a 126-93 preseason loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these s--tty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault."

“He’s getting older now, so he’s not a kid anymore. But he came into this league as a kid. But it’s never the organization’s fault. It’s always that guy.”

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Chriss' mom got wind of Green's comments first, later relaying the message to her son. Soon after, Shawntae had a request for Green following a Warriors home game.  

"I asked Draymond if my mom could take a picture one time when we were leaving the gym," Chriss said. "She was like, 'yeah, he's one of my favorites now.' I was like, Draymond, 'can Mom get a picture?' and he came back and took a picture."

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