Count Kevin Durant and Draymond Green among those who seek to learn something each day and also possess the gift of grasping the big picture. Aside from KD making better use of his chill button, they are alike in more ways than not. Each can feel the other.
Which is why they can discuss their relationship authentically, with no need for a filter, as they did Wednesday morning on Bleacher Report’s “Chips with Draymond Green.”
As Draymond interviewed KD, the first thing that became apparent is both men have a friendship, a brotherhood, regardless of the supposed “beef” between them emanating from an on-court argument in the late stages of a tie game between the Warriors and on Nov. 12, 2018 in Los Angeles.
Further proof of their brotherhood is that both concluded the team’s response – a one-game suspension issued to Green for “conduct detrimental to the team” – was mishandled by Warriors management.
“In my opinion, they f--ked it up,” Green said.
“I think so, too,” Durant said.
That’s a hard knock on the team’s decision makers. It’s an easier accusation for KD, who left for the Nets in July 2019. But Green didn’t flinch, even though he remains a Warrior, with Steve Kerr the coach and Bob Myers the team president.
The Warriors on Wednesday declined to comment on the opinions expressed during the Green-Durant interview.
Draymond felt the need to address the matter – “for my own personal sanity” – so he asked KD the question long on the minds of many fans: “How much did our argument against the Clippers drive you to ultimately leave the Warriors?”
Not much, according to Durant.
“It wasn’t the argument,” he said. “It was the way that everybody ... Steve Kerr acted like it didn’t happen. Bob Myers tried to discipline you and think that would put a mask over everything.
“I really felt like that was such a big situation for us as a group, the first time we went through something like that. We had to get this s—t all out.”
In watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” a semi-documentary on the Chicago Bulls' dynasty during the Michael Jordan era, KD took note of how the team handled Scottie Pippen’s refusal to enter the final seconds of a close game, evidently upset about not getting a chance to take the last shot.
“The whole team, in the locker room, said, ‘Scottie, that was f--ked up that you did that.’ We needed that. We just needed to throw all that s—t on the table and say, ‘Yo, Dray and K, that was f--ked up that we had to go through that. Let’s just wipe our hands of that and go finish the task.
“I didn’t think we did that. We tried to dance around it. I just didn’t like how all of that, just the vibe between all of that, it just made s—t weird. I’d rather us be who we say we are: family first, communication is key. We didn’t show that. That’s what rubbed me the wrong way.”
The incident was initiated when Green grabbed a defensive rebound in the final seconds and ignored Durant’s pleas for the ball as they headed up the court. Green wound up committing a turnover, sending the game into overtime, with the Clippers taking the victory.
Green, who clearly lost his composure, said after the team landed in Oakland that he was told to apologize. He said he would, directly to Durant. After considerable conversation, nothing was resolved, leaving both parties to revisit the issue the next day.
Still no resolution, after which Myers informed Draymond of his suspension.
“I literally laughed in their face,” Green said.
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Green served his suspension and, without him, the Warriors beat the Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back set.
The team’s chemistry, fraying at the edges prior to the spat, never got much better. The season became a task. The goal, a third consecutive championship, remained in view, but the underlying disenchantment was impossible to miss.
Though the team’s response to the incident in Los Angeles was not extreme, it revealed a measure of cultural unawareness. What was perceived as a potential team-fracturing event was in fact two Black men – similar to siblings or real friends – momentarily caught up in their emotions.
KD and Draymond would have preferred to clear the air and move on. They have. So have the Warriors, with the greatest chapter in franchise history closed for good.