Usually, in this time and space, we write a Draymond Green puff piece. It’s become a rite of passage, as we’ve published a feature in this vein the past couple years. Perhaps that tradition is ending now though as the media are placing the proverbial black hat on Green. It’s deserved now too as he’s been suspended for game 5 of the NBA Finals, due to his, uhm, making his presence felt in an opposing player’s groin area.
He might be the next NBA star to fill that James Posey, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Anthony Mason kind of role. His Western Conference Finals performance left a lot to be desired. Hard to find a coach or fan who would desire seeing one of their players kick an opponent in the junk.
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo came on the NBA on TNT pregame show (watch video here) and discussed his former player.
“I think he played a little bit out of character at times,” said Izzo in the biggest understatement of this year’s postseason.
When the Golden State Warriors fell down 3-1, the TV pundits piled on the Dancing Bear and rightfully so.
Reggie Miller on Draymond Green:
“Things did not go the Warriors’ way in the first half, and it all started with that flagrant foul on Draymond Green. I love the passion that [Green] plays with, but he has to learn to play within his head, especially on the road in the Playoffs.”
Shaquille O’Neal on Draymond Green:
“When you agitate, when you say certain things to the media, I’ve seen certain superstars go off [on the court] in response. [Draymond Green] gets away with a lot of pushing, touch fouling, he talks a lot.”
As the NBA Finals approaches, ESPN/ABC did a media conference call previewing the series with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. A reporter asked about Draymond Green and the “bad guy” narrative. Here’s the transcript:
Q. Draymond Green, especially in the last series, really throughout the playoffs, has found himself in some confrontations, Steven Adams and a few others, just kind of the way that he goes about playing the game that hard, that intense style. I just wonder what you saw from him early in his career and was that fire and intensity always there? Did you see him kind of eventually developing into this kind of rugged role where he’s almost being kind of cast as the villain in some parts?
JACKSON: I will say this, Draymond Green had the same mentality first day he walked through the door— great competitor; great competitive spirit. He was sold out on doing all the intangibles that not only make him successful, but to make the team successful. He was a guy that you quickly found out made you a better basketball team when he was on the floor.
Obviously he’s been in different altercations throughout the playoffs. But I will say this, listening to him last night, the respect that he has for Steven Adams, who also has been in altercations, because of the appreciation for how hard he plays and how fierce he competes. The respect level was, I believe at the end of the day, when you look at him as a competitor, you want Draymond Green on your team, and you probably fear (ph) when you have to face him because he constantly keeps his foot on the gas and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win ballgames as far as a competitive spirit is concerned.
Although “It’s a high to be loathed” as Mr. Burns famously sang, no one usually strives to be the heel. Certainly, no one ever believes that they’re the villain. It’s all about what label, applied by journalism which later becomes the title affixed by history, is able to stick.
Draymond Green was an insanely intense competitor when he was in East Lansing; he’s the same way now in Golden State. He’s also an outrageously elite defender. Take a look at the chart below:
Top defensive players from the 2016 playoffs, per TPA: pic.twitter.com/QzvJlPbojm
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) June 1, 2016
Being the best means being polarizing. Being the best defender means being very physical. And of course, “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin,” so when you try as hard as anybody in the game, you’ll inevitably rub some people the wrong way.
On the other hand, look at what Draymond Green does to his opponents, he’s fittingly and appropriately cast as the villain.
Draymond Green has been suspended for game 5 pic.twitter.com/ZE4aIyl75B
— OTN (@OnlyTheNBA) June 12, 2016
Draymond right now. pic.twitter.com/zJ8RHv8UkI
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 12, 2016
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye edition.