Draymond Green’s response Thursday to an innocuous question about his postseason routine was a three-minute confession of his springtime obsession.
Asked what he does to “get away” from such a high-intensity environment, to “chill out,” Green dived into his answer before the question was completed.
“I don’t get away from it,” he said. “I live there every day of the playoffs. So, after the playoffs, I’ll be exhausted and emotionally and mentally drained, even more so than physically. Because I don’t try to get away from it. I may take a day every blue moon in the playoffs to try to say, ‘Alright, I’m going to try to get away from it. But you’ve got to live this. You’ve got to feel it. You’ve got to breathe it. You can’t get away from this. If you get away from this during the playoffs, you’re losing your mojo. You’re not going to win if you’re trying to get away from this.
“Everything you’ve got has to go into this if you’re trying to win a championship. So, I don’t really get away from it.”
There was conviction in every word, which explains so much of what occurs with Postseason Draymond, last seen Wednesday night as the Warriors laid a 112-87 beating on the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Draymond sprinting at every opportunity, pushing the pace in transition, even if he means leaving younger, fresher teammates behind. Draymond rushing out to defend three or four different Mavericks while somehow keeping an eye on the rest of the court. Draymond barking, bellowing, gesturing and acting as if every moment means everything.
He finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in 29 minutes of controlled mania.
You, too, might feel the same vitality and drive if, for an undermined amount of time beginning in mid-April, you’ve turned your entire life inside out in pursuit of one thing.
“My family feels that,” Green said from the podium at Chase Center. “My friends feel that. Everybody around me feels that. I don’t get away from it. What am I trying to get away from? A championship? It’s enough guys running away from that; I don’t need to join that group.
“I live and breathe that stress every day, all day. I don’t go home after (practice) and feel like, ‘Oh, man, I’m free.’ Nah. I’m doing something to prepare for tomorrow. All day, until I go to bed. Because that’s how you have to win championships.”
This falls in line with what the late, great Kobe Bryant -- who spent a few sessions counseling Draymond – called “Mamba Mentality.” It’s when one’s focus becomes so acute, so sharply pointed, that it could puncture oxygen.
That’s what it took to make Michael Jordan great. What it took to make Kobe great. Among other prominent players remaining in the NBA playoffs, it’s said that Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler is cut from similar cloth.
They all stand as proof that the term “temporary insanity” is befitting in areas beyond the courtroom.
There is no time for fun, only games. No time, not even an hour or two, for a mental or emotional vacation. The obsession never far away becomes all-consuming for an indefinite period.
Golf? Get the putt out of here.
“You’ve got to stay in it,” Green said. “If you can’t stay in it, you don’t deserve to win, and you won’t win. Because if you’re not in it, somebody (else) is working to win. So, you’ll lose. And I don’t like to lose. So, I stay in it the whole time, until I’m out. Or win or lose. You’ve got to stay in it. I stay in it.”
A few seconds later, as Draymond was at the podium talking about his desire to give himself to the moment, his phone lit up. Incoming call. From his mother, Mary Babers Green, whom he has referred to as his best friend.
Draymond answered in speakerphone mode and as he began talking, he politely told her he would call back, even though he suspected she was relaying some sad news about his childhood acquaintance.
“You have ... everybody who plays basketball is watching,” he continued. “You see all the tweets during the games from players? I was doing it the last two years ... everybody is locked in and watching the game. There’s no better feeling than that. As a player, when you know everybody is watching you, you’ve got to embrace that.
“So, why would I want to step outside that? Once I step outside, we’re going back to Game 1 of the regular season, which is boring. I don’t need to step outside of it.”
So, Draymond stays in that zone during every Warriors appearance in the playoffs. It’s why he so firmly believes some players are built for the 82-game regular season, while only a select few are wired for the 16 wins required to finish on top.
Count him in the latter group. Probably for life.