Storyline: Durant-Green Dynamic

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2 months ago via ESPN
Have you talked to Kevin the summer? Green: Absolutely. I actually talked to K yesterday. You know, Kevin is my brother. He came to Golden State for three seasons. We won two championships … if someone would’ve told me, man, Kevin Durant’s gonna come to the Warriors and you guys are gonna win two championships and then have a shot at winning a third, would you take that? In a heartbeat. And so that was a major success. That’s my brother, and I’m happy for him.

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On Thursday, Haynes said Durant’s “deep dive” entailed not speaking to his Warriors teammates. “There was a point with Kevin Durant when he just stopped talking to his teammates,” Haynes said during an appearance on Fox Sports’ “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” “He was really on an island and didn’t have somebody that he was close with on that team. The only person he was close with was Quinn Cook, because they’re from the same area. But Quinn is a younger guy that doesn’t have much clout within the franchise.”

Haynes did not specify when this shift occurred, but said it was after the courtside spat with Draymond Green in November. “After the Draymond stuff went down and then the New York Knicks chatter started going haywire, Durant just stopped talking,” Haynes said. “He felt like if he said something, it would give a lot of credence to people saying he’s only thinking about free agency. You would see Durant leaving the arena by himself and entering the arena by himself and really not speaking to anyone.”

Shams Charania: I wrote after the verbal altercation between you and KD that the season would go two different ways based upon how you reacted. Did you realize that how you responded to the situation would impact everything? Draymond Green: For sure. That can go one or two ways; we would go one way or the other. I knew that it would go whatever way that I wanted it to go. I told Bob (Myers) and Steve (Kerr), ‘At the end of the day, the only person that can correct this is me.’ I promised them I would. I was obviously dedicated toward making that right and making this run to the Finals. I had to draw that line in the sand, and I knew what was most important to me and us. We had a championship in our mind. I understood whatever issue was there, we had to move on. At the end of the day, only I could correct it.

How did the team get through the Durant-Draymond incident? Bob Myers: “Just being a decent human being. That’s like anything in life. This just happens to be on a bigger stage. You’re just doing your job. Everybody covers our organization. We’re fortunate to be in a spot where people care about our team as much they do, both good and bad. It was just being a high group of character people and leaning on Steve [Kerr]. That allows us to get through anything, to be honest. I always hearken back to losing Game 7 at home. That was a defining moment. That was a high level of adversity. To respond the way we have, it’s a credit to leadership to Steve’s side and also the players.

I asked: Were you worried that the Draymond-Durant incident might wreck the season? “Not really,” Lacob said. “Stuff like that happens on basketball teams. Those guys are both pretty emotional guys, so it blew up. We all know what happened. No surprise. I think it’s healed. And I don’t think it’s an issue at this point. “Was I surprised that it happened? I guess, a little. But not shocked by any means. Stuff like that does happen. We’ve had remarkably few issues between players. We’re pretty much a family. These players get along better than pretty much any team you’ll ever want to see. We have to consider ourselves lucky that our players are who they are.”

I don’t see KD interact with his teammates anymore, are they ok? How about KD and Draymond do they hang out like before? We only see a fraction of the actual time these players are together, but I would say that what you are noticing is what a lot of people are noticing. Doesn’t mean they don’t chatter up constantly when we’re not looking, but usually what we see is a general representation of how it’s going between teammates. I do not believe Durant and Draymond spend as much time together as they used to.

The healing didn’t happen immediately, as things were awkward for some period of time while Curry was still a ways away from returning to the court. “It’s a very select few that have been through the struggle. We have to rely on each other and that’s what got us through, the equity,” Curry said. “We’re all different, we come from different backgrounds, different ways of seeing life and value and appreciate what everybody brings to the table. If there were 15 me’s, we wouldn’t win. If there was 15 KD’s, we wouldn’t win. Fifteen Draymond’s … we have a little bit of everything.”

The healing didn’t happen immediately, as things were awkward for some period of time while Curry was still a ways away from returning to the court. “It’s a very select few that have been through the struggle. We have to rely on each other and that’s what got us through, the equity,” Curry said. “We’re all different, we come from different backgrounds, different ways of seeing life and value and appreciate what everybody brings to the table. If there were 15 me’s, we wouldn’t win. If there was 15 KD’s, we wouldn’t win. Fifteen Draymond’s … we have a little bit of everything.”

The team that prided itself on staying in the moment had a highly dissected moment of slippage due to Green’s emotion and Durant’s impending free agency this summer. Curry’s injury stopped the early MVP conversation that hadn’t included him for a couple years, but that took second place to what felt like the most trying time of this dynastic run. He admitted it could’ve turned into a full-blown crisis “if we let it continue,” Curry told Yahoo Sports recently.

The healing didn’t happen immediately, as things were awkward for some period of time while Curry was still a ways away from returning to the court. “It’s a very select few that have been through the struggle. We have to rely on each other and that’s what got us through, the equity,” Curry said. “We’re all different, we come from different backgrounds, different ways of seeing life and value and appreciate what everybody brings to the table. If there were 15 me’s, we wouldn’t win. If there was 15 KD’s, we wouldn’t win. Fifteen Draymond’s … we have a little bit of everything.”

On top of his list was making things right with Durant. Fixing his relationship with Durant was the challenge that would test Green. It would require the best of who he is, all his wisdom and intelligence and humility. So when they sat down in Dallas, Green listened. He even came away impressed. The talk couldn’t set them on the road to recovery if Durant wasn’t willing. He was. And he didn’t use the opportunity to simply hear Green out or for the chance to exact revenge by going off in return. Durant didn’t just take the high road. He invested himself in making this work.

Green is hoping no matter what, in 20 years, when they are older and gray, they will call each other friends and it will be real. “It’s very rare,” Green said of what he and Durant have. “Obviously, we had a good relationship and then to go through something like we went through and still come out of that with a great relationship, that’s special. Those are the relationships you have for life. My deepest relationships that I have is, like, with people that I went through shit with. It could’ve been a bad argument. It could’ve been ready to go to blows. Those are my best relationships because you go through something and then you come out on the other side and y’all are tighter and better for it. Those are the special relationships.”
9 months ago via ESPN

In between prepping for the Warhawks in Michigan State’s first home game of a holiday tournament, Tom Izzo was working back channels, calling Steve Kerr and some of Green’s closest confidants to glean if one of his all-time favorite former players had made a mistake, lost his cool and possibly crossed the line. More than anything, Izzo wanted to make sure that Green was mentally and spiritually intact. “His number one thing, ‘I need to make sure you’re in a great head space,'” Green said of Izzo’s message. “‘I need to make sure that whatever’s going on, it don’t happen again.’ That’s amazing.”
9 months ago via ESPN

If the Warriors don’t three-peat, or even if they do and then Durant leaves in free agency, there will be detractors who probably will point back to the night at Staples Center when Green and Durant were shouting at each other. “I just really didn’t give a damn [about what people outside the Warriors think],” Green said of those wanting to divide Green, Durant and the Warriors. “Because I know at the end of the day, no one wants to see us win again. They would love for us to break up, for it to be broken up by that. Because they can’t, f— … can’t nobody f—ing’ beat us. So, I just look at it and laugh.”

In the aftermath of that highly publicized incident, Durant received advice from mentors in his life, from his old coaches to old family and friends. One after another, people sent him messages and calls with the same message: “Go to work,” they told Durant. “Go to work the same way.” “People I lean on told me to stay centerfield with my thoughts and my feelings,” Durant explained. “I received so many people reaching out; my former coaches saying to stay centered, stay measured, stay pushing forward and keeping my foot on the gas. At that time, we were losing games, and people were banged up, so it’s easy to go the other way when you’re searching for answers. It was about staying positive and going to work.

But on that Nov. 12 night when his former Golden State Warriors teammates lost their way against the Clippers in Los Angeles, when Draymond Green didn’t pass to Kevin Durant at the end of regulation and they feuded on the floor for all to see, the 38-year-old West found himself wondering what might have been if he hadn’t hung those sneakers up back in late August. “I’m gonna be honest,” West told The Athletic by phone last month. “The only moment (where) I said, ‘Man, I wish I was there,’ was at that Clippers game. When Draymond turned the ball over at the end — and he was going to create the play; he was going to make the play, it just sometimes doesn’t happen — at that moment, when I saw the way he was walking, and I saw KD react, and it was like ‘Oh, I know if I was there that shit wouldn’t have happened.’ That’s the only moment where I felt like, ‘Man I could’ve stopped it.’”

Have you tried to actually play a part here as far as talking to Draymond or Kevin? David West: “We’ve talked. I’ve talked to Draymond. I’ve just tried to be a voice of reason in his ear. I think that’s always been the purpose I’ve served, just to be another voice on his shoulder. He’s a competitive dude, so he’s on edge. Obviously Draymond is going to state his case, and be who he is, and he has every right to do (that). But he knows how to focus, knows how to win, and he’ll get there. He came into the year banged up, and that’s obviously frustrating for guys when you can’t come in healthy. He knows how to do it. … Steve has invited me to practice. I’m going to make my way through there, probably before Christmas.”

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant said last week’s well-publicized, in-game exchange with Draymond Green that resulted in Green’s one-game suspension will have no bearing on his future with the franchise and that he’s more than ready to move on from the incident. “Nah, [it won’t factor],” Durant told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. “Because at the end of the day, I’m just a ballplayer that’s just trying to be in a great environment to play basketball and groom my skills every day. And I want to compete on a level that once the game starts, I’m just totally comfortable with my surroundings, with just going out there and being me.”

“I was upset, but I know that I can’t hold on to something like this,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I know that I’ve got to make a choice with myself, like how long are you going to be upset about this to the point where you’re going to let it affect what you do on the floor or how you approach the game? Once it gets there now, I got to make a grown-man decision and tell myself, ‘Look, man, no matter what, you still got to come to work every single day. It’s going to work out. It’s going to figure itself out.’ And I think everyone’s been handling it the best way they could and we’re just trying to move forward with it.”

In the end, Durant said the situation could become a galvanizing force that could bring the team closer. “When you go through some adversity in your personal relationships and you kind of lay everything out on the table with that human, that person, you start to just really get an understanding for everything,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “… I feel like we’ll all do that at some point. Not just me and Draymond, but I feel like just being with these guys for so long that you start to get comfortable.”

Kevin​ Durant’s initial​ fury​ was​ and​ remains directly tied to Draymond Green’s​ vicious words​ delivered​ on that​ Staples​ Center​​ bench. That’s at the root of the problem that, a week later, is still very much rotting the Warriors’ locker room chemistry at its core. But this potentially dynasty-altering issue — and Durant’s trouble getting over it — is so much deeper than just what Green said. It’s the inescapable result of it: a dramatic, relentless modern-day media storm of “psychoanalysis” about Durant, the thing he despises most in this NBA world and the steep price of his fame, the subject of his most rebellious rants (on and off the record) the past couple years.

So I asked some of the team’s veterans during the road trip: How much more difficult is it to push your team past this when everyone on the outside is reliving it in your face and on your screens? “The one thing I’ll say is it’s a lot more difficult in terms of people knowing everything,” Steph Curry said. “Misinformation is another thing. With how active as our guys are on social media, it’s hard not to see that stuff. “But it tests your character, makes you figure out how to compartmentalize stuff. Either you take it as entertainment or you get influenced by it. “Whatever you think, however you are in real life, in terms of how impressionable you are, how insecure you might be, how confident in yourself you might be, that’ll all reflect in how you handle it.”

What gives you the confidence that KD and Draymond will be able to move forward together? Stephen Curry: They have a lot of equity built in their relationship. They’ve won championships together. They’ve brought out the best in each other. Obviously, I don’t think they’ve had an incident to this level, but you don’t have the experiences we’ve had and go through the journey we’ve been on and let it be derailed by something like that. Obviously, from a personal standpoint, there are some things that need to work through. That’s like any relationship in life. But at the end of the day, they both understand that neither one of them is going to be the reason we don’t win a championship this year.

But isn’t it a risky move to suspend one of the players involved, and not both? Isn’t that choosing sides? “It never even occurred to us. That’s not the point,” said Lacob. “The point is, whether it would be any employee, they’d have to act certain ways to be our employee. Draymond knows that he went beyond — won’t say what he did, or what he said, or anything like that — he went beyond what we felt appropriate, so it didn’t matter who it was. “And he understands that, by the way. I’ve been texting with him, and he totally gets it. I do have a great relationship with him, and I still do.”

But what does that mean though? What form does that take? We saw you walk in together at shoot-around. So when did you guys connect? Draymond Green: Ah, you know none of that really matters. At the end of the day, we’re here to win basketball games, and it takes a certain cohesiveness to do that. And we know. We’ve done it. We know what it takes. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes in relationships, in friendships, family, sometimes it goes South, you know? And that’s just life. It’s no different than basketball. But the fact of the matter is that relationships are reparable. That’s just what it is.

Durant was upset about not getting a pass from Green before he turned the ball over in the final seconds of regulation against the host Los Angeles Clippers. Sources said Green was perturbed by Durant clapping for the ball and being upset about not getting it for a possible game-winner. Other sources said Green crossed the line when he responded with a very personal expletive-laden tirade. Those words included Green telling Durant that he succeeded before he arrived and questioning the two-time Finals MVP’s loyalty with his upcoming free agency.

In the press conference, when asked about his friendship with Draymond Green, Durant replied, “I don’t really think that even matters right now.” I ask Andre if the Warriors can win with KD and Draymond at odds like this. Andre responds, “Shaq and Kobe ain’t like each other.” Me: “But that ended in a way you wouldn’t want this to end, right?” Andre: “They won three championships in a row. Ain’t that what you want to happen?” Me: “I guess all things come to an end.” Andre: “Everything come to an end.”

While sources say that Green’s treatment of Durant on the court was the primary reason for their choice to take approximately $120,000 out of his bank account, it’s clear that his caustic comments to Durant that related to free agency played a pivotal part here too. If only we lived in a world with unending candor, where the press release might include a line like, “We’d strongly prefer that Draymond doesn’t pack Kevin’s bags for him and book his flight on one of those Alaska Airlines planes that feature his smiling face and incredible wingspan, and so he was suspended.”

Green repeatedly called Durant “a bitch” after he was called out by the two-time NBA Finals MVP in the huddle for not passing him the ball, sources said. The organization is of the belief that Green cut too deep in his disagreement with Durant, sources said. Klay Thompson, who is typically reserved, spoke up in the locker room to the surprise of his teammates about the altercation and stressed the importance of sticking together, sources said. It is not yet clear how the Warriors will explain Green’s benching, considering it stemmed from a verbal altercation between two teammates.

An angry late game exchange between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green carried into the Golden State Warriors locker room on Monday night in Los Angeles, where some teammates loudly confronted Green for his decision-making on the final play of regulation, league sources told ESPN. After the 121-116 overtime loss to the LA Clippers, some witnesses described the closed-door exchange as one of the most intense of this Warriors era. No one had to be separated, no player left his side and no hint of physicality loomed in the setting, sources said.
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October 14, 2019 | 9:25 pm EDT Update