NBA rumors: Steve Kerr: 'We're riding with Draymond'

“If you want to win a game, you need Draymond on your team. And he’s loyal. He’s a competitor. He’s a winner. And if the price to pay on that is, you know, him spilling his emotions over the top sometimes, so be it. Having said that, he knows that he crossed the line. And so then the key for Draymond is to play with passion and energy but know when to draw the line. … But everybody in that locker room loves him and respects him. He’s our leader. I think those guys all said that after the game: We’re riding with Draymond.”

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“I know him so well that he’s gonna fight,” Kerr said. “He’s gonna compete. I know the numbers may not show it, everybody wants to focus on shooting and scoring. But the fact is he’s had a hell of a year. He’s really played well for us, helped us win a lot of games. He is the main reason we have the fifth-ranked defense in the league. Draymond is playing well. We’re following his lead and that’s not going to change.”
Golden State has been upfront about building something for the future. If that’s true, it does make sense to use this to that end. The Warriors could fine him (and maybe did privately). They could suspend him, which they’ve done before. They could trade him, but if they didn’t do it before, it doesn’t make sense to do it from this position of weakness. If the Warriors are going to move on from a franchise legend, it should be because they have a better option in place and not as a form of chastisement.
In the Runnin’ Plays podcast with NBCSports, Kerr said he has reached out to old coaches and mentors for help with players including forward Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. “(Michigan State coach) Tom Izzo and I have become good friends because I decided I wanted to really know how to coach Draymond and I sought his advice,” Kerr said.
The way Green interacts with teammates has received national attention, and not always in a positive light, but his leadership was undeniably an integral part of the glue that helped Golden State become a dynasty. Kerr learned how to best communicate with Green. “I think that’s a big part of being a coach in the NBA, is really learning your players and understanding what makes them tick,” Kerr said.
When Draymond Green sees Michigan State retire his No. 23 jersey Tuesday, Steve Kerr will be a part of the memories. The coach will leave the Warriors’ five-game, eight-day road trip to witness Green, whom he calls the “heartbeat” of the team, earn one of the greatest honors a player can know. “When I think about what’s he’s meant to the Warriors and my coaching career, the least I can do is be there for him on a big night," Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. "There’s not even a second thought."
Green beamed when he talked about Kerr being there. “For him to come up that day with me for a big moment for myself and my family … it really means a lot," Green told NBC Sports Bay Area. "There’s a lot of things he could be doing, like resting. Or a lot of other things on an off day rather than being in East Lansing, but I’m truly appreciative of that.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Draymond Green catching up with Steve Kerr
Green said he and Kerr didn't have to clear the air after the clip gained traction. "There's nothing to clear," Green said. "Like I said, s--- happens. We live in a day and age where there's a camera everywhere. So, if anything, we'll probably be more conscious of that. But as far we need to clear the air, there's no air to clear."
Green said he wasn't outwardly concerned, because he wasn't going to let one emotional outburst in a heated moment change how he felt. "Because someone else's opinion or how they necessarily may feel ain't getting me to where I am in the first place," Green said, explaining his mentality. "So, I don't really spend my time worrying about how anyone feels. I think everyone is entitled to their own feelings and opinions. So, I don't take anyone's feeling or opinions personal because it's just that for them -- it's personal for them. So, who am I to feel a way about how someone else may feel or feel in the moment? That's human nature, and we all have those [moments], so that's how I'm able to move forward."
Mark Medina: Draymond Green not taking Steve Kerr’s video personally. They haven’t addressed it because Draymond said he doesn’t feel it’s needed
Mark Medina: Draymond Green on Steve Kerr saying he’s “(bleeping) tired of Draymond: “It don’t bother me. Shit happens. It is what it is. I’m sure there’s plenty of time a coach is tired of a player. There’s times players are tired of coaches.”
Steve Kerr acknowledged using an expletive to air his frustrations with Draymond Green when speaking to assistant coach Mike Brown during Sunday's 115-111 loss to the lowly Suns. The moment was caught on video and, while it wasn't audible, viewers could read Kerr's lips. Kerr wouldn't go into details regarding any discussion he had with Green on Monday, saying "that's private." The two-time defending champions didn't hold a formal practice and Kevin Durant was listed as day-to-day with a bruised right ankle he injured midway through the fourth quarter of the embarrassing defeat, which snapped an 18-game winning streak against Phoenix — longest in the NBA against a single opponent. The Warriors play again Wednesday at Houston to begin a tough four-game road trip.
In his own sarcastic way, however, Kerr did acknowledge that the lip readers weren’t necessarily wrong about what he said in that expletive-laced clip from Sunday’s 115-111 loss to the Suns. "What I said was I beg to differ with Draymond’s approach," Kerr said with a smirk. "Those were my exact words. I don’t know how somebody misconstrued that."
Steph [Curry] was asked on Bill Simmons' [podcast] for his favorite Draymond story. He pointed to your beefs with Steve Kerr at practice, which he called "amazing entertainment." Draymond Green: [Laughs] We used to battle in practice all the time. Steve would be like, "Get off the floor! You're done!" "I'm not done! I'm not getting off this floor!" Eventually I'd get off, but to be a pr---, I'd just do the Stairmaster courtside, extra hard. But our relationship is incredible. Definitely in the past we would butt heads a lot -- everybody knows about the blowup in OKC [at halftime during their 73-win season], where we had it out in the locker room -- but I think I've grown up, and also Steve knows me now. He put effort into understanding me, not changing me.
Fast-forward about one week. The Warriors had two off days in New York and were riding a two-game losing streak, their first one all season. Kerr had plans to go see “Hamilton” on Broadway with his wife. But Margot got a call from her husband. He was going to be late. He and Green grabbed a drink and just talked. “People don’t understand our relationship,” Green said recently. “I’m probably closer with Steve than any other player on this team.”
“This year, we’ve even moved beyond that,” Kerr said, “to where I think we fully understand each other. And I understand you’ve gotta let Draymond be Draymond. In the end, it works. So I’ve got to give him the leash that he needs to turn it over and take some shots. “That’s fine, because in the end, the guy wins. He just wins. And he competes. One of the reasons he wins is because his emotional intensity is at a certain level. … So I couldn’t get too frustrated. I had to live through some nights where he didn’t have his full energy, was taking some bad shots and turning it over. As long as I was reminding myself that we’re getting the real Draymond in the playoffs.”
“We’ve got good guys. Nobody’s tripping. A very ego-less group,” West said. “In this environment, you can’t be mad. I’ve had to tell the young guys, ‘Y’all need to talk to some other people, ask guys what it’s like in other environments because this is not normal. You mu’fuckers better be thankful to God.’ Shiiiit. For a coach to, even when you’re young, sort of give you the freedom to be yourself and develop your own identity — as opposed to saying, ‘This is who the fuck you gone be.’ I told that to all of them. Damian Jones, Pat (McCaw), whoever else the fuck in here who’s young. Those of us who’s been to other places — Andre, Shaun, myself — we know this isn’t normal. Even Nick Young. He’s been saying all year, ‘I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life.’ A lot of it is the environment we have here.”
Drew Shiller: Steve Kerr: "There's nobody like him, honestly. I don't know another player who is like Draymond in this league ... his performance tonight was unreal." This is why I firmly believe Draymond is a Top 15 player (don't let his apathy during this regular season fool you...)
The Warriors were up 15 in the fourth quarter. They no doubt were going to beat the visiting Brooklyn Nets, but the drama was just beginning. Steve Kerr benched Draymond Green with 10:25 left in the game. And Green, who was 1 for 8 with four rebounds and three turnovers to that point, was furious. He was an All-Star headed for the Defensive Player of the Year award. He’d earned the right to play through his funk instead of being embarrassed with a benching. He sat the rest of the quarter and was still fuming after the game. “If he woulda said one more word to me, I was gonna go off on his ass,” Green said in the locker room, unapologetically loud. “One more word, I was ’bout to cuss his ass out. But he’s smart. I’ll give him that. He’s smart. He didn’t say one more word to me.”
Kerr had plans to go see “Hamilton” on Broadway with his wife. But Margot got a call from her husband. He was going to be late. He and Green grabbed a drink and just talked. “People don’t understand our relationship,” Green said recently. “I’m probably closer with Steve than any other player on this team.” When Kerr got the Warriors job and it became clear Green would be a central figure, he called up Michigan State coach Tom Izzo for advice on coaching Green. Izzo told Kerr to go at Green because that gets the most out of him. Kerr, whose competitive fire trends toward maniacal, had no problem acquiescing. “I might have gone too far a couple times,” Kerr recalled. But Green almost welcomes the friction. So the two were made for each other in some ways.
And Kerr was almost as non-communicative at his post-game presser when asked why Green played so little in a game that competitive until midway through the fourth quarter. “It just wasn’t his night,” Kerr said tersely.
I’ve been in the Warriors’ locker room hundreds if not thousands of times, after horrible games and great games and middling games, and this was one of the more uncomfortable moods in there I’ve encountered. The main guess is that there are some edgy feelings between Draymond and Kerr, possibly tied to Draymond’s listless play throughout the game and Kerr’s reaction to it.
“It was just good communication between two teammates who are passionate and trying to figure something out together,” Kerr said after practice Saturday. “Kevin didn’t take anything personally, and I thought Draymond handled it really well. We had a good film session, a good meeting today where guys talked about different things. It’s all part of the process.”
IT'S FEB. 27 in Oklahoma City, during halftime of a nationally televised game, and Green is losing his holy mind. Inside the visitors locker room, he's hollering "I am not a robot!" at Kerr. When Kerr tells him to sit down, Green screams, "Motherf---er, come sit me down!" When he goes after Kerr, his teammates, including Curry and Thompson, step in to stave off disaster. Minutes later, in her report following halftime, ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters will recite a portion of Green's explosion: "I am not a robot! I know I can play! You have me messed up right now! If you don't want me to shoot, I won't shoot the rest of the game!" "I'm standing outside the locker room with the Oklahoma City police, which are always stationed outside of every locker room," Salters will later recall. "They kind of moved me aside, and the officer just kind of stood by the door, with his hand on his weapon like he was trying to determine what he should do. It was clear that something bad was about to happen in this locker room. We've never heard anything like this before."
Publicly, the Warriors downplay the incident. At the next practice, Kerr says, "It's the NBA. Every team I've ever been on has had stuff like this. Every team. Championship teams or not, it happens. It's 15 alpha males in a room trying to compete, money on the line and prestige and trophies and competition. This is being so overblown." Privately, according to sources close to the team, Green's teammates respond by voting to fine him. (When asked a week later about the fine, a livid Green would insist, "I asked to be fined. You can report that!") Green also does not take kindly to the coverage of his outburst, which leads to the Warriors brokering a sit-down between him and Salters. Salters recalls telling him, "What kind of bothered me about it was hearing the pain that was in your voice -- you weren't just mad, you were in pain, emotional pain."
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