Kevin Durant and Draymond Green: ‘They will be brothers again’
The Warriors’ team culture — like no other in the NBA — is being tested
OAKLAND, Calif. — Three weeks ago, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and other Golden State Warriors players danced in a locker room to troll Fergie’s remix rendition of the national anthem. But on Tuesday night, Green was not allowed in the locker room, Durant quickly departed and the rest of the Warriors were left trying to figure out a way to get their family back together.
The Warriors have been a model team in the NBA. They share the ball and play with joy. They treat each other like family. Their motto is “Strength in numbers.”
Their camaraderie is a big reason that they were able to attract Durant and DeMarcus Cousins to the Bay Area. Life was good in their quest for a three-peat this season, too, until an on-court verbal confrontation between Durant and Green caused friction in the locker room on Monday night.
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.
A peeved Durant got dressed quickly after the loss, headed out of the locker room before all of his teammates and spent time sitting at the Staples Center loading dock just thinking, a source said.
The Warriors responded by suspending Green for Tuesday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks. While Green accepted the suspension, a source said he was surprised at being fined a $120,000 game check and plans to appeal the franchise’s decision with the aid of the players association.
Durant and Green have known each other for years and were USA Basketball teammates. Green also played a strong role in recruiting Durant to join the Warriors after they lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. It wasn’t until they became Warriors teammates that they became close, a source said. The two hung out together in Los Angeles during the offseason.
Time will tell how quickly their relationship will fully heal. Judging from Durant’s words to the media on Tuesday night, it was no secret that he was still bothered, but he said he was sure they’d work it out given the long season ahead.
His teammates were ready to help too. One Warrior told The Undefeated that he was going to do everything in his power to get Green and Durant back on the same page soon.
Said another Warriors player: “Those dudes won a chip together. They will be brothers again tomorrow.”
Ultimately, though, you do not have to love your teammate to win a title. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala mentioned that Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant did not always see eye to eye as they won three titles together.
“That’s a part of growth,” Iguodala said. “There was an old-school pimp who said, ‘You can’t climb a mountain if it’s smooth.’ ”
What matters at this point is that Durant and Green have a job to do. And when they do the job together, they win and win big.
Said one Eastern Conference team executive: “They will get over this and still win the championship.”
Of course, the elephant in the room for the Warriors is that Durant will be a free agent next summer and he has not shown an inclination that he will return next season. The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and other teams with money next summer have to be quietly excited about this turmoil.
On Thursday, at shootaround ahead of the Warriors’ matchup with the Houston Rockets, Green addressed the issue:
“Kevin and I spoke. We’re moving forward,” Green said. “I think there’s no secret that I am an emotional player. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I play with that same emotion. Sometimes it gets the best of me and it doesn’t work to my favor.”
Green and Durant walked into Toyota Center together prior to the shootaround.
And Klay Thompson is optimistic that the Warriors, who are tied with the Toronto Raptors with an NBA-best 12-3 record, will be dancing together again.
“I love both of those guys,” Thompson said. “And at the end of the day, we’re on the same team, with the same goal, and that’s the three-peat. I don’t think either of them will lose sight of that, whether it’s personal agenda or whatever. I think we’ll get far past it, and we’ll get back to that goal eventually, hopefully.”