The Draymond Green-Little Caesars story: 'I chewed him out...'

The Draymond Green-Little Caesars story: 'I chewed him out...'

DANVILLE, Ca. -- Draymond Green’s sprint toward NBA stardom began when he was 12 years old and able to grasp and apply the concept of help-side defense. It could not reach full speed, though, until he cooled his friendship Little Caesar.

Green and LC grew up together in Michigan. They were tight, according to former Saginaw High basketball coach Lou Dawkins, who was the most influential coach of Green’s adolescence. Green was the budding athlete, and LC and his nefarious allies were doing their part to prevent him from reaching full potential.

Green was a large, chubby teenager. LC was his buddy in a box. Pizza.

“I remember when he was a junior in high school,” Dawkins recalled Wednesday, glancing over at Green, the newly crowned NBA Defensive Player of the Year. “We started class at 7:40 in Michigan, and he would come with a Hot-n-Ready pizza. At 7:40 in the morning. I caught him doing that, and I chewed him out. I laid into him.”

To be sure, Green’s food friend wasn’t enough of a burden to keep him out of the NBA. As a second-round draft pick by the Warriors in 2012, he clawed his way into the league even with his weight pushing 250 at certain points of his rookie season.

But a steady diet of pizza would not have allowed Green to become the player or the man he is today: 6-foot-7 on a good day, weighing about 230 pounds, an NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist and Defensive Player of the Year

“When he changed his diet, things took off for him,” said Dawkins, now an assistant at Cleveland State. “It made him quicker. It made him smoother. He always had the IQ. But not being a premier athlete, he knew that he would have to do more for him to exist at this level. And he did it.”

Told about the pizza-in-the-morning story, Green broke into a grin at the memory. He liked to eat, with pizza and tacos among his favorites, almost as much as he liked to play basketball.

He had to take a break from LC. Create some distance. Green had a choice to make, and he realized he had to push away.

“It was very necessary,” he said. “I couldn’t play at the level that I’ve played at without changing my body. That was one of the most important things. And it was hard.

“But I know if I want to be great, there are certain things I have to do.”

The NBA has many tales of men whose careers were affected by the inability to control their appetite: Robert Swift, Eddy Curry, John “Hot Plate” Williams, Jerome “Big Snacks” James, Khalid El-Amin and former Warrior Victor Alexander, among others.

Charles Barkley was that rare exception, someone whose bulk did not imprison his talent.

Green opted out before weight had a chance to threaten his career.

“He wanted to show everybody that he could be one of the top players in the NBA,” Dawkins said. “And showing it. He couldn’t do that if . . . do you remember Oliver Miller? The other ‘Big O?’ He had talent, but . . . Dray knew that for him to reach the highest level, everything had to be on point physically.”

Green not only manages his weight but also is one of the league’s most consistently energetic players. He runs the break as a point forward, then sprints back on defense. He takes it upon himself to generate enough energy that it rubs off on his teammates.

All this comes from a guy that two-time Warriors coach Don Nelson, a bench legend who routinely ridiculed players he considered “fat,” almost certainly would not have drafted.

“I always knew he was going to be a star, I saw it when he was a youngster,” Dawkins said. “But I didn’t know he’d become a megastar.

“All that means is the time he put in outside of practice, improving his nutrition, the way he has changed his diet, getting in the gym putting up shots and grinding, has paid off.”

Now that Green has grown accustomed to his physique, which changed for good before July 2015, when he signed a five-year extension worth $82 million, he has gotten used to it. It was, for him, a lifestyle choice that has now become the norm.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You start to look at your body and you see the changes, and you feel good about that. You see the changes on the floor. You feel much better. You have more bounce. You can go longer.”

Green still dabbles in the occasional slice of pizza. It’s a guilty pleasure now, rarely enjoyed and he may never again hang out with Little Caesar at 7:40 in the morning.

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'


Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue taking 'step back from coaching for the time being'

The Cavaliers are going to be without head coach Tyronn Lue indefinitely.

On Monday morning, Lue issued the following statement through the team:

"After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization's support throughout."

Lue has had to leave multiple games early this season due to his health.

Get well, Tyronn.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.