Editor’s note: This Draymond Green essay is a guest contribution to The Sports Bank by Memphis Grizzlies fan Mare Keane
Let me start this by saying that the Golden State Warriors are not my team.
I despised them in 2013. I wrote them off in 2014 as a bunch of big headed guys who thought they were better than they actually were, and dubbed Steph Curry the next injury-laden Derrick Rose.
I hated them again the next year when they beat my Memphis Grizzlies in the second round. I was among those chirping after they won the championship about how it would have been different had they not played teams with so many injuries. That’s right- I was a hater.
For the majority of the 2015-16 season I was living in the Bay Area, and not having NBA League Pass, watched a lot of Warriors basketball. Watching wide eyed and jaw dropped I tried to convince myself that it was boring to see the same thing over and over again.
But I was just bitter that they weren’t my team.
Eventually, as I watched them speed up and down the court with more energy than anyone else I was inundated with the passing genius, on the court basketball intelligence, and raging passion from Draymond Green. He was one of the biggest heart in sports that I have ever seen.
I’d like to say that it was a fight for me to admit Draymond my favorite player in basketball, but it wasn’t.
I would even root for him as I simultaneously rooted for the other team.
About halfway through the season I came out to friends and family (although, admittedly, not the Warriors fans I talk the most trash to) about my fiendish love for the player who wears his heart (screw the sleeve) five feet outside of his chest.
“Who?” said my Dad, along with my Mom, Spurs fans who stick to watching only San Antonio’s games.
“Dray-mond. It’s like your name but with a D at the beginning. He goes up every night against guys who are bigger and taller than him and he destroys them. And he’s only 6’8”.” At which my Mother scoffed.
Not everyone was convinced. My brother (regrettably, a Cleveland fan) responded to my proclamation with an emphatic “Ew” and suggested Damian Lillard be my favorite player. Hell yeah I sent him the clip of Draymond blocking Lillard in the Portland series and pancaking him to the floor.
On February 24th I wrote a message to a friend and fellow NBA fan: “I’m thinking about writing an article on Draymond Green. The title of which goes something like this: ‘I’m not a Warriors fan, but here’s why Draymond Green is slowly changing my mind.’
Or, ‘Why Draymond Green makes all of us feel like we’re not trying hard enough in life.’
Or how ‘bout, ‘Go Green or go back to your crib and cry about it.’”
Maybe what I love about Draymond Green the most is no matter what happens, he always comes back bigger, stronger and better than he did before. That has a lasting impact on how we live our own lives. When the playoffs began the image I chose for my iPad’s lock screen was of Draymond Green pounding fist to chest, head bowed and face constrained with an impassioned scream.
Fast forward to the last month and a move to Los Angeles, a city that can destroy the most hardened of us upon first arrival, and seeing one of my dogs has cancer. Add to that that I don’t have cable and there haven’t been too many smiles in my household these days.
So when I came home from work one night at one in the morning and there was a Sports Illustrated magazine waiting for me on the kitchen table with Draymond Green on the cover surrounded in blue and gold, I had to cover my mouth to stifle my scream, eyes bugged out, and the hugest smile on my face, I thought…what is it about sports that’s so important and why are athletes such valuable assets to the lives of us mere mortals?
It was time to write that article.
Everyone remembers that player they idolized growing up, but remember what it felt like?
To be giddy with expectation before their next game, inspired by the possibilities of what you could achieve in life, and wrapped up in the passion, dedication and intensity with which they played the game.
For me and my brothers, it was Michael Jordan.
I was pretty young at the time, but I will never forget how I felt watching that man play basketball. Awestruck. Dumbfounded. Completely and totally Uplifted.
Whether we realize it or not, I think the vast majority of us adults are in search of a feeling we once had when we were children.
So to Draymond Green I say thank you. There is something to be said for someone you don’t know making your life better. And although I refuse to ride the bandwagon, there is no denying that this season has seen the Golden State Warriors win me over as a fan, and not just with their basketball.
They have integrity, an indelible work ethic, and they respect each other. I am no longer filled with hate but love, and I can’t help but sit back and marvel: damn…those boys are ballin’.Follow paulmbanks