Draymond Green’s searing postgame analysis late Thursday night -- after the Warriors were drubbed by the Clippers -- was a clear view into his uncompromising mentality and also a sharply focused glimpse of a man rarely touched by failure.
“I’m not a moral victory type of guy,” he said after a 141-122 loss to LA at Chase Center. “I’m not leaving this game looking for something to build on.
“We (bleeping) sucked. And we’ve got to get better.”
Green did not say “bleeping,” and his assessment of the Warriors’ performance was 100-percent accurate. They were atrocious.
With this team, and this roster, there will be plenty of similar nights this season. Insofar as this is add odds with Draymond’s basketball history, he will struggle to cope.
Consider that his Saginaw High Trojans won Michigan Class A championships in his junior year and senior years, losing once each season.
Consider that at Michigan State, the Spartans advanced to the Final Four in each of his first two seasons. They reached the NCAA Tournament in all of his four seasons.
Consider that the Warriors drafted Green seven years ago and not only have gone to the playoffs every year since but also won three championships while compiling the best five-year record of any team in NBA history.
Winning is all Draymond knows, and everything about his competitive nature suggests he hates losing even more than he loves winning.
As ecstatic as Draymond was with winning three NBA championships, he will never be anything but salty about the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. The Warriors won a record 73 games in the regular season but lost a seven-game Finals that was altered when he was suspended for Game 5, a game in which the team entered Oracle Arena with a 3-1 series lead.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has often described Green as “the heartbeat” of the team. With his ebullient spirit, he sets a tone that often engages the emotions of his teammates. With his commitment to defense, he sets a standard. With his devotion to details, he keeps everyone – coaches and players – on alert.
This season, when all of that is challenged, is going to test the irrepressible spirit of a dude whose basketball persona is largely defined by exactly that.
Draymond over the course of this season is going to need a lot of assuaging, a job best suited for Stephen Curry. Curry is now, and has been throughout the amazing times, the team’s moderating presence, addressing difficult issues with perspective rather than passion, with reason rather than rage.
Curry is the one Warrior to have experienced three losing seasons and four coaches. He’s the only Warrior to know the feeling of meaningless games in March. He can share stories of sharing a locker room with the likes of Mikki Moore and Lou Amundsen and Kwame Brown and Vladimir Radmanovic.
Curry can recount that humbling – insulting, in retrospect – stretch of the 2010-11 season when he was second-string, behind the profoundly ordinary Acie Law.
This is not to suggest that these Warriors are as defective as those teams. This bunch is not going to finish 30 games below .500, as the 2009-10 team did, or even 10 games below, as happened the following season. Those early Curry teams did not have a fully formed Steph, much less an accomplished Draymond.
“We’re just trying to figure out we can just take baby steps at this point,” Curry said late Thursday night, “and put together a great quarter and put together a great half and just compete.”
Curry’s experience with competitive adversity, which comes with long nights, long seasons and long faces will be invaluable to Green. Maybe even essential.
Draymond has no idea what this is like because it’s not found anywhere on his basketball resume. His misery was being taken in the second round of the NBA draft, and that perceived disrespect lit a fire that still burns.
In the wake of the Warriors losing the 2019 Finals, Green vowed that they weren’t going to fade into mediocrity. They were going to be a factor. He was speaking from personal experience. The only experience he has had in the league.
This season is here and, for Draymond, it’s a completely new reality. It’s going to test his spirit, which may be his most valuable attribute, but he’ll be better for it if he can get through it.