Warriors' tolerance for Draymond's emotions is diminishing

  • Programming note: Warriors fans can watch complete Game 3 coverage Thursday on NBC Sports Bay Area, NBCSportsBayArea.com and the NBC Sports app. “Warriors Pregame Live” starts at 6 p.m., followed by Bob Fitzgerald and Kelenna Azubuike on the game broadcast at 7, with “Warriors Postgame Live” and then “Dubs Talk Live” immediately after the game.

SAN FRANCISCO – Before, during and after the Warriors practiced Wednesday afternoon, they were forced to confront painfully familiar circumstances the likes of which they hoped would not be repeated.

A postseason game without Draymond Green.

“They called me last night,” general manager Bob Myers, disappointment evident, said Wednesday, “and said he’s suspended.”

Green will miss Game 3 of the first-round series with the Sacramento Kings, who have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes Thursday night at Chase Center.

The last time Golden State was in this predicament was Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors took a 3-1 series lead into the game but, with Green suspended, lost that game. They also lost Games 6 and 7 and, therefore, the series.

The Warriors recovered nicely, luring future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant from free agency and winning the next two NBA Finals.

This time is different.

This time might be the last time for Draymond as a Warrior – and for the mighty Warriors of the Stephen Curry Era.

The Warriors for years have appreciated Draymond’s immense contributions, they also have tolerated his fits of temper. They long ago made peace with the dichotomy, for embracing the former means accepting the latter.

“Draymond is incredibly competitive and passionate and fiery,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s helped us win four championships. I’ve said it many times: We don’t have a single championship without Draymond Green. That’s the truth.

“He’s crossed the line over the years. That’s part of it.”

Draymond being Draymond is OK when the team was thriving. He was indeed an essential ingredient to the team’s championship mix. His playmaking generated offense. His defense was at times incomparable. Parades followed.

All along, teammates and coaches and Myers were managing the occasional Draymond flareup. Attempts to eradicate would have weakened him, and that’s not what the Warriors wanted. Nor would it have succeeded.

“He’s the ultimate competitor – the ultimate warrior, winner, champion,” said Kerr, who had a halftime kerfuffle with Green seven years ago. “Everybody knows he’s going to occasionally tip over the edge and his emotions get the best of it. That’s part of it.

“There’s no stopping Draymond. You’re not going to be able to put your arm around him and calm him down and say, ‘OK, let’s move forward.’ It doesn’t work that way. It’s OK. We accept Draymond for who he is and what he stands for and his competitiveness and his fire because, frankly, we feed on that. It helps us win.”

Not so this season, during which there has been nothing. There is nothing to indicate a deep playoff run, much less an NBA Finals or a championship parade. It is much harder to endure Draymond being Draymond.

The trend began last October, with Draymond’s right fist trying to rearrange the face of teammate Jordan Poole, followed by the Warriors staggering through the regular season and now wobbling through the first two games of this series against a team led by playoff rookies.

Even at age 33, Draymond remains valuable, but every member of a struggling team loses a measure of status. Any member of a struggling team who disrupts the process loses considerable status.

That’s where Draymond is – and he’s able to opt out of the final year of his contract next season.

“He’s a force. He’s unique. He’s a leader,” Myers said. “But he will tell you that he’s made mistakes. He can’t hide from them. They’re out there for everybody to see. He’s got a good heart. He does. I know that. But that doesn’t mean he’s mistake-free. I’m not. Nobody is.

“But as far as I can see, he’s a good husband, a good father. He’s been good to his teammates. He made a mistake with a teammate. I hadn’t seen him do anything like that to a teammate before.

“If you want to talk about what he’s done for the organization, that’s not up for dispute. He’s helped us. Without him, we probably don’t have any of the championships. He’s a complicated guy, for sure.”

RELATED: Warriors' focus shifts to Game 3 after Draymond's suspension

Draymond has indicated a desire to play his entire career with the Warriors. He has given blood for the franchise and, this season, is playing despite a lengthy list of aches and pains and sprains.

But reading between the lines this season, the organization’s tolerance for Draymond’s dark side is greatly diminished. If the Warriors are bounced in the first round, it might be entirely gone.

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