If there's one thing anyone knows for certain about Green, it's the pride he takes in his defense. So, when Green was asked what it's like to try to guard Damian Lillard following Team USA's practice on Thursday, Green had to point out the operative word in the question.
"I feel like you just disrespected me -- someone who tried to guard Dame. That's crazy," Green joked.
Green is the centerpiece for everything the Warriors do on that end of the floor. He would easily rather block someone's shot than hit a shot over someone else.
The love we see Green have for this part of the game stems from the doubts people had about his ability to defend.
"When I came into the league, I fell in the draft because their No. 1 question was what position would I guard," Green said. "That stuck with me. And I wanted to make everyone eat those words. Every team that passed me, every reporter, everybody that is anybody who has said anything about my defense at that point. I wanted them to eat them words."
So, being good at defense started out as a point to prove, but it quickly evolved into a passion. Green realized how that cliche "defense wins championships" is actually somewhat true.
"To see what playing great defense, how it can completely snatch the confidence of your opponent, that was enough for me," Green said. "When you’re playing the game of basketball, when you can take the mind, everything else will follow. If you can take their mind, you can take their confidence. If you can get in their head, everything else follows. Just understanding the success I’ve been able to contribute to teams by giving all that I have on that side of the ball, that’s where it started."
It's one thing to recognize the impact defense can have on the game, but it's another to take that and then translate it into reality.
According to Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich, good defense starts with a "natural affinity and desire to be great." But, not everyone has the necessary tools.
“What's a natural affinity? You know, understanding spatial arrangements, being able to do work early, understanding angles and distances, having the desire to want to stop an opponent, but at the same time understanding how that’s done with wisdom," Popovich said. "It's not with reaching or blazing speed, it's about position. And some people understand their body position better than others."
The next thing Popovich said was crucial to be a great defender is actually just enjoying playing defense. For a lot of players, defense doesn't give the same instant gratification as scoring does. Good defense is far less tangible, and a lot of the time doesn't show up in the stat sheet.
So there needs to be an understanding that while a lot of people might not recognize what you are doing and there may not be physical numbers that reflect your impact, it's there.
Green knows this. He doesn't need the numbers to enjoy playing defense. He enjoys it because shutting someone down feeds his mindset more than anything else will.
"I enjoy it because I look at every defensive possession as a battle. And I want to win as many of the battles that I can," Green said. "So it all boils back down to my competitive spirit and always wanting to win whatever I’m doing."