SAN FRANCISCO – The velvety, measured leadership of Steph Curry confronted its first quandary of the season Wednesday, three days after the Warriors returned from a team-bonding trip and 13 days before the opening night.
And this can be a particularly delicate undertaking for Curry because it involves Draymond Green, a longtime amigo and the most temperamental member of the Warriors’ three-man leadership council.
There is absolutely zero doubt that Curry is deeply relieved to know the third member of the council, Andre Iguodala, will be at his side as they navigate the coming days and weeks, and months.
“He does an amazing job of saying all the right things, at the right time, to the right people, sometimes in front of the team, sometimes on a one-to-one basis,” Curry said of Iguodala on Thursday. “And every bit of it is important.”
Curry and Iguodala may not have foreseen Green swinging on Jordan Poole during practice, as happened Wednesday, but they surely imagined – with both players seeking contract extensions – the possibility of an increased level of stress that could test the generally mellow fellowship on the Good Ship Dubs.
This is one of the reasons Curry was so persistent in imploring Iguodala to return for one more season. This is why general manager and president of basketball operations Bob Myers kept a roster spot open until Iguodala decided on his future.
Coach Steve Kerr, who often describes Iguodala as “the adult in the room,” was delighted to see him return for a 19th NBA season. Not simply because Iguodala can mentor much younger teammates but also because he has the gravitas to question misguided actions of the veterans.
“Andre is one of the great leaders I’ve ever been around,” Kerr said. “One of the reasons we were so excited that he decided to come back this year was because we knew that we were going to need his internal leadership.”
Iguodala was the lone member of the Warriors willing to address the fallout from Green’s flash meltdown that resulted in violence. Iguodala posted tweets supportive of Green and Poole but also made a point of speaking heart-to-heart with both.
“Whether it’s positive encouragement on stuff on the court, or whether it’s problem-solving turmoil in the locker room,” Curry said of Iguodala’s willingness to tackle thorny issues. “That’s always been apparent. And that value, it’s invaluable.
“I’m not going to sit here and catalog every conversation he had yesterday,” Curry added, “but it was a lot in terms of bringing leadership and presence as somebody whose voice is so respected across all the generations we have in the locker room, and coaches and front office as well.”
It’s not as if Curry kept to himself. He gathered the team in the immediate aftermath Wednesday and said a few words. He took time to speak individually with Poole, Iguodala, and, of course, Green.
“He respects my opinion,” Curry said of Green. “He respects how I feel. And we’ve had those conversations. Be honest with him about the disappointment in the situation but also, we’ve earned the ability to say, ‘I trust that you’re going to do the work to figure it out.’
“That’s all you can do right now. You rely on the history, rely on the confidence in who I know him to be.”
Nobody is saying Green is a bad human being. Quite the opposite; Myers described him as “complicated but a good person,” reminding all that Green apologized to the team once again Thursday morning.
“Still love the person,” Myers said. “Don’t love what he did, but still love the guy.”
Curry feels the same way about Green, which is why he might have been the most disappointed person on the court when the yapping turned physical. He knows what this could mean for everyone involved.
Curry’s role is, as it has been for the better part of his 13-year career, to ensure the word “team” means exactly that.
“We’re all here for a specific reason, to play basketball at a very high level and all have success,” Curry said. “There’s a lot riding on the fabric of the team to set everybody up for success. People are trying to get paid, to provide for their families, people are trying to level up in their careers. And we’re trying to win championships.
“All those things matter, so protecting the team is . . . anything that falls into the category of making sure that we’re set up for success and just go hoop and have fun and enjoy the reason that we’re all here.”
Curry’s leadership wasn’t tested much last season, for even when the Warriors fell into slumps there always was a sense they were temporary. They were.
The hope is that Wednesday's events were not a fracture but a slight strain. The coming months will provide answers, while Curry and Iguodala massage Green because they are best suited for the task.