Warriors

Warriors

Editor's Note: Over the next week, NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports Chicago will try to settle the debate about who is the best NBA team of all time: the 2016-17 Warriors or the 1995-96 Bulls. Check out NBCSportsChicago.com for the Bulls perspective.

Draymond Green and Dennis Rodman walked similar lines. They both were simultaneously the league's biggest villain and its most indispensable player.

Along the way, the pair viciously yelled at superstar teammates and coaches alike. Above all, they've become a champion, etching themselves as pillars of dynastic runs.

The root of Green's mindset was born more than 2,000 miles away from the Bay Area in rugged Saginaw, Mich. As a kid, his mother worked three jobs to make ends meet. But as Green went through adolescence, high school, college and beyond, he was a constant winner. At Saginaw High, he led the Trojans to a state title in 2007. A year later, he helped lead Michigan State to the national title game. In Golden State, he helped the Warriors win three championships in five seasons.

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Rodman was born into more humble beginnings in Dallas. In the Oak Cliff section of town, his mother, Shirley, worked up to four jobs at a time to put food on the table for Rodman and his two sisters. After high school, Rodman worked as an overnight janitor at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Following a growth spurt, he bounced around several schools before landing at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, an NAIA school, where he blossomed into an All-American. In the NBA, he was one of the "Bad Boys" for the champion Detroit Pistons, becoming a defensive anchor for one of the best defensive units in NBA history. He carried his defensive reputation to stops in San Antonio, and most notably, with the Chicago Bulls.

 

During his career, Rodman developed a reputation as one of the league's biggest characters. He wore a wedding dress to a book signing, kicked a cameraman and even head-butted an official as he racked up fines. Along the way, he helped Chicago win a league record 73-games, making seven All-Defensive First Teams and winning five titles (three with the Bulls and two with the Pistons).

Though not as outlandish, Green's rugged demeanor that helped him become the league's best defenders also drew the ire of his teammates. Most notably, his relationship with Kevin Durant, whom Green called out during an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The altercation played a role in Durant's eventual departure from the team. But Green's attitude stems from his upbringing in Michigan, one that the forward needed to reach his basketball dreams.

"I took it so seriously," Green said earlier this season. "I didn't have a bunch of friends. Even in the NBA, I don't have a ton of friends. It's different for me. If you don't got what I got as far as passion goes, as far as the hate for losing that I have, you would never understand it.

"If you're passionate about this s--t, like I'm passionate about this s--t, we don't bump heads. That's just what it is. If you're not as passionate about this as I am, if you're not as passionate about winning as I am, we're going to bump heads and that's just a fact."

Coaches weren't exempt from Green's outbursts. Steve Kerr and Green have clashed frequently, most notably during halftime of a 2016 matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, when Green's tirade could be heard outside of the locker room. But in hindsight, the tension helped the duo in the long run.

"They were important," Kerr said following the 2019 Western Conference finals. "He needed to know that I wasn't afraid to coach him, and I needed to know that he would respond to me, and after every argument and after every fight we'd get into, there was always a mutual respect and a sort of meeting of the minds and we'd figure it out, and it works."

"As long as you treat someone with respect, you can go at them and challenge them, and they may not agree with you," Kerr added. "But if you treated them with respect, then you can move forward, and that's the foundation I have with Draymond."

 

Differences aside, Rodman has shown admiration for Green, saying that the forward was the only player to embody his spirit as a basketball player.

 "You've got the Steph Currys, the LeBron James, players like that," Rodman told Bleacher Report last year. "But I want to see the player that says, 'OK, I want to be the player that stands out to do my job and earn the money for the role that they're paying me for.' That's what I'm looking for. I don't see that player out there.

"Draymond Green is something sort of like that," Rodman added. "But besides him, I don't see other players who have that passion, who have that love, that drive, they need basketball. No money, no fame. They have three hours of their life, 'I'm going out to do my job, to win for people. I'll get the gratification at the end of the day when I have a ring on my finger.' That's the kind of player I'm looking for."

[RELATED: NBC Sports Chicago's side of Draymond vs. Rodman debate]

Green and Rodman have earned their roles as villains. But their prowess pushed Bulls and Warriors to heights never seen before in league history. They were essentials assets to the two greatest of basketball's dynasties, forever craving themselves into NBA history.

"You'd rather reign people in than have to kick them," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said in December. "His force of nature, his personality and his competitiveness is something you cannot corral, but so what. Those are the people that are interesting, that you want to get to know, that you want to know more about -- that are unique."