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Draymond Green: Kevin Durant made mistake by leaving Warriors

Draymond Green and Kevin Durant in Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets

BROOKLYN, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors on November 16, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Draymond Green infamously told Kevin Durant to leave the Warriors.

On better terms with Durant now, Green wishes Durant would’ve stayed.

Not because Golden State is back in the NBA Finals while Durant’s Nets have yet to advance past the second round. But because Green thinks Durant would be happier with the Warriors.

Green on “The Colin Cowherd Podcast":

I care. I 100 percent care, because that’s my brother. And I always want to see him doing well – whether that’s here, whether that’s in Brooklyn, whether he decides he wants to go play for Barcelona next year in EuroLeague. I always want to see him do well, because that bond, that relationship – it’s always going to go much further than I can play basketball and that he can play basketball.

As far as caring that he’s on our team or not, I can’t care, because that’s not up to me. That’s not up to me from a team standpoint. That’s not up to me from Kevin’s standpoint.

What I will say is, when he decided that he was going to leave, I thought it was a mistake. And not for the reason that everyone else thinks it’s a mistake, by the way. I thought it was a mistake, because I know Kevin. And what Kevin likes to do in his life – the number one thing in Kevin’s life – and that’s not the case for most people, including NBA guys, by the way. Basketball isn’t the most important thing to me in my life. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and act like it is. It’s not the most important thing in my life. It is extremely important. But it’s not the most important thing in my life. Basketball is 100 percent the most important thing in Kevin’s life. It is the thing that he cares about himself more than anything in the world. And when Kevin was here, the reason I thought Kevin was making a mistake, because I felt like when Kevin was here, what he was allowed to do was to simply just go play basketball, which is what Kevin loves to do.

And so it wasn’t that he was going to play with Kyrie. It wasn’t that everyone’s, “Oh, Kyrie isn’t there.” It wasn’t any of that. Or it wasn’t, oh man, you’re winning championships. It was more so, from me, from a life standpoint, because again, I care about the person. I don’t give a damn about the basketball player. He’s a great basketball player. I just care about the person. And I just knew what makes him happy in his life is being able to simply go play basketball. And so that’s where the mistake was made for me. It’s not that he wasn’t going to go win, because again, it’s not proven that they’re still not going to win. It takes time to build these things up.

Whether that fails or succeeds, that wasn’t the mistake to me. The mistake, for me, was simply from a life standpoint of what makes you happy. What makes you happy – I know you. You’re my brother. What makes you happy is just simply going to play basketball. And so that’s where the mistake was made to me.

I don’t know about this assessment – the part about Durant caring about only basketball, especially the part about him getting to focus on basketball in Golden State and the part about that not being the case in Brooklyn.

When Durant signed with the Warriors in 2016, he was interested in Silicon Valley. His move to the Nets meshed with his company moving to New York. Durant certainly seems involved in the expansion of Thirty Five Ventures.

Even if Durant wanted to focus on only basketball, he didn’t get to do that in Golden State. He said he never fit in like other Warriors. He felt the media trying to separate the team. Even Green acknowledged Durant was discontent due to outside opinion (praise for LeBron James after the 2017 NBA Finals). Durant said coaches, teammates and media kept pestering him with questions about his future while he wanted just to hoop. And there was Green’s outburst, which created a whole new level of drama for Durant to deal with.

Durant obviously faces non-basketball challenges in Brooklyn, too. But the Nets take care of so much surrounding hassle, that makes it easier to focus on basketball. In a league where superstars like Durant are massive brands onto themselves, it’s at least something. Granted, those deep playoff runs Durant enjoyed so much with the Thunder and Warriors? He hasn’t been afforded those in Brooklyn.

Really, Green accidentally makes a better case Durant should’ve stayed in Oklahoma City in 2016. The Thunder built a culture around embracing being in a small market, protecting their players from the limited noise that could’ve cracked through and letting everyone focus on basketball. Durant might not have loved the basketball, but he wasn’t satisfied with the style of play in Golden State, either.

I believe Green truly cares about Durant as a person. But Green is also extremely close to the situation. He recruited Durant to the Warriors to help them win. Green is still trying to win with the Warriors – a challenge made more difficult by Durant’s departure. It’d be only human for Green – despite his best intentions – to believe what’s best for Durant happens to coincide with what’s best for Green.

Maybe Green is right. Durant said he enjoyed his time with Golden State. But I suspect he’d say the same about the Nets. Still, I would like to hear from Durant himself on this.