Draymond & Boogie: Brothers from another mother
The Warriors teammates are bonding off the court. Will they mesh on it?
OAKLAND, California — Standing in front of his Golden State Warriors teammates after a film session during training camp, Draymond Green unexpectedly spoke up on behalf of DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Green told the reigning two-time NBA champions that Cousins needed their daily support as he continues to recover physically and mentally from a torn Achilles tendon. He added that they should be prepared for when the four-time NBA All-Star has his bad days before reaching his great days in a Warriors uniform.
The Warriors center, who was in the room, was touched by Green’s words.
“It felt amazing,” Cousins told The Undefeated. “I never had a teammate speak up for me in any matter or actually try to understand my situation in any moment. Shows he cares. Shows his leadership qualities are through the roof.”
Green and Cousins are two of the most outspoken players in the NBA, with dominant personalities. So it was only fitting that Green decided to take Cousins under his wing in the Bay Area when the latter shocked the NBA world by signing a one-year, $5.3 million contract with the Warriors during the offseason. And it’s an important gesture because having Cousins buy in early will be a key to the Warriors’ quest for a three-peat and their fourth title in five years — a quest that begins on Tuesday with their season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Whether it has been on the court or off — coincidentally, they live on the same street in the East Bay area — no Warriors player has spent more time with Cousins than Green has.
With Cousins coming off a roller-coaster 2017-18 season, averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists with the New Orleans Pelicans before tearing his Achilles tendon in February and being shunned by teams in free agency, Green has decided to look out for his teammate. And not because someone from the Warriors asked him to.
“I just think that’s important,” Green told The Undefeated. “Obviously this is a different culture than he’s ever been in, and I think we are very similar in the aspect of we both wear our emotions on our sleeves. It’s important to help him get acclimated to the culture that we have here, the do’s and don’ts of it.”
Green said he first met Cousins in college when they were playing at Michigan State and Kentucky, respectively. Green and Cousins were also USA Basketball teammates during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where they constantly talked trash to each other during practice and card games, and All-Star teammates the past three years.
Cousins reached out to Green after he decided to sign with the franchise. At that time, Cousins and Green were more colleagues than buddies.
“We knew each other, but not on a personal level,” Cousins said.
Their friendship truly began in September, according to Green’s close friend Jacquail Jacox, who is president of the All-In-One Sports management company.
“Draymond said, ‘Someone just moved into the neighborhood. I think it was DeMarcus,’ ” said Jacox. “I said, ‘Well, let’s go see.’ So we pull up in the driveway and DeMarcus’ security guy [Antjuan Lambert] is there looking at us funny and he started laughing. Next thing you know, we go into the house and DeMarcus didn’t know we were there. He came downstairs and said, ‘What are y’all doing in my crib?’ ”
Green spent the next couple of hours having an in-depth conversation with Cousins. They talked Warriors. They enjoyed Caribbean food and expensive wine. They tried to solve the world’s problems, talking regular politics and, as Cousins described it, “’hood politics.” And Green even attempted to clean Cousins’ pool.
Green made a point to tell Cousins that he was there to offer any assistance on and off the court. And Cousins has taken Green up on his offer, as he is using the same maid and car detail services and taken suggestions on Bay Area restaurants.
“He’s made this transition for me smooth,” Cousins said. “He is the guy I call on when I need any type of advice on what is going on around the area, getting accustomed to the culture. Whatever the case may be, I can call.”
Green has also started a tradition of coming to Cousins’ house unannounced. Green will walk in the front door, go to the kitchen, find something to eat and text Cousins that he is there.
“I pop over to his house quite a bit,” Green said with a smile. “We live right there. I just walk in his kitchen and just go to the house. And then I call him and tell him I’m in his house. Yeah, multiple times.”
Said Cousins: “I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ But, I mean, I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. Honestly, I would do the same s— to him.”
Cousins said he has been hanging out with Green so much he feels like a family member now. Recently, Cousins joined Green and his mother, Mary Babers-Green, as the former visited a very nice home he was thinking about buying.
“We just clicked, man,” Cousins said. “That’s how we f—ing cut from the same cloth. It’s a natural thing. It’s a natural energy.
“I like to put people around me who are just genuine and real,” Cousins said. “Speaking black and white. Intelligent. Know what they’re speaking about. With this guy here, you got that entire package. He is going to always keep it real; that’s something I enjoy. Not only a team member, we’re friends too.”
While the two are meshing, the two also acknowledge they are both still strong-minded men who don’t and won’t always agree on everything.
“Hell, no. We fight every day,” Cousins said with a laugh.
Said Green: “I’m sure we’ll have battles this year. That’s not going anywhere. We’ll be on the same team. There will be classic battles, there will be times when we disagree. That’s just the nature of the game we play.”
Green also acknowledged that after stints with the Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, Cousins may be on his first team where there are several strong-minded veterans who are comfortable speaking up to him. Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have no problem holding each other accountable for the greater good of winning a title. Cousins will be playing in his 10th NBA season and has yet to play in the playoffs.
“I think it would be good for him. It will show him a different side. It will help him grow. I think that’s important,” Green said.
While Cousins told The Undefeated that he sees a “light at the end of the tunnel” with his Achilles injury, it is uncertain when he will return to action. The Warriors have said they are not rushing Cousins, nor are they holding him back.
For the most part, Cousins said, being sidelined has not been hard since he has missed only preseason games. But the 6-foot-10, 265-pound center said it will get tougher once the season starts.
“Opening night will be different because the competitive juices really get to flowing. Trash talk increases. And it counts,” Cousins said.
Green plans to keep a close eye on Cousins as he works to get into the lineup.
“If you care about their well-being, you care about how things are going for them, whether it’s an injury or whether it’s playing well,” Green said.
Once Cousins returns, the Warriors can have a lineup that boasts five All-Stars: Cousins, Green, Curry, Durant and Thompson. The Warriors also have been using “the death” lineup the past two seasons with Green, Curry, Durant, Thompson and Iguodala in the clutch. So what will give in crunch time when Cousins comes back?
Green says he has no problems being the odd man out when that group is “rolling.”
“Some games, that group will have it rolling and you ride that group as long as you can. I can see it going that way,” Green said.
And once Cousins is on the court, Green has also told him to be his natural self.
“The most important thing about being here is that, does everyone accept you for who you are?” Green said. “It may sound like, ‘Oh, man, this is how we act or this is how we do things.’ No, you be who you are. Everybody just makes that clear, like make that work. It’s not about, ‘Hey, man, we do things a certain way, or you got to be this way or that way.’ No, be exactly who you are.”