It’s Okay To Grow Up (Draymond Green)

Draymond Green reached a plea deal with East Lansing prosecutors. He’ll pay a fine, avoid jail time, and have his misdemeanor assault and battery charge expunged. Green said all the right things following the conclusion of a case where there wasn’t much witness evidence that Green was, in fact, guilty of a crime. And yet just the charge itself, regardless of its lack of merit, adds one more line to the Draymond Green is immature column. He told Marc Spears (The Undefeated), “I’m happy that this is behind me and it’s definitely a lesson learned. I’m looking forward to competing for a gold medal for my country.”

There had been speculation that Green’s behavior may cost him a spot on the Olympic team. The Olympics is a lens larger than anything Green is used to.

The Saginaw native didn’t veer far from home when he attended Michigan State. NBA scouts didn’t think much of his game, that it would survive the transition to professional ball, and he was a second round pick. His early years in Oakland were developmental, involving learning an identity and mastering  how to win, both structurally and individually. He never had the LeBron James fish bowl effect with everyone watching everything he says and does.

Until now.

What is wrong with Draymond Green? has defined his narrative, taking away all the brilliant things Green does for the Warriors. Take your pick on the Green flaws: Immaturity. Arrogance. Dirty Player. Obnoxiousness. Green has enabled his critics by allowing his emotions to run amok, creating situations that could have been avoided.

There hadn’t been much of a shelf life or consequence to Green’s emotionality until his NBA Finals Game 5 suspension and that’s when the chickens came home to roost. It wasn’t funny any longer, all of the Green idiosyncrasies. It was damaging and followed the script: you are your behavior.

Dryamond Green had finally done what he said he would never do: cross the line and put his team in jeopardy. He missed the most important game of the season because of his inability to control his emotions. Whether he should have been suspended or not is open for interpretation but putting himself in the position to be questioned because of his behavior is all on Green. He has to own the bitter truth that his leadership i.q. went out the window and his absence cost the Warriors the opportunity to close out the Cavaliers.

The Warriors spin machine spit out the Draymond Green suspension in a way that benefited them. They brought up their strength in numbers identity. They said they had enough (talent) to beat the Cavs in Game 5 without Green.  But Green’s most important qualities, leadership and defense, were a no-show in Game 5 and the Warriors suffered. They need Draymond Green just as much as they need Steph Curry.

Green changes their entire calculus; he is the one piece teams struggle to adjust to. He rebounds, he moves the ball, he’s unselfish. But in the biggest moment of the year, his selfishness became the issue.

Draymond Green’s 2015-16 year was simply brilliant. The only player better than Green as far as on-court impact was LeBron James. He was the third best defensive player, evaluated by the metric Defensive Real-Plus Minus. There is no replacing Green and yet somehow Green seems to ignore his value and worth. He gets caught up in his personal extroversion and forgets the big picture: the Warriors can’t win without him.

That was evident in Game 5.

Late last season, Lakers guard Lou Williams, when talking about talented but immature rookie D’Angelo Russell said, “it’s okay to grow up.” The same message can be applied to Draymond Green who told reporters he doesn’t think he has to change. His personality has gotten him this far. That is true. He doesn’t need to change at all.

But he does need to grow up. That is not changing. That is evolving. Every person who has sustained success over time has evolved. They are one person at 20 years old, another person at 25 years old, a totally different person at 29. It doesn’t mean they have succumbed to critics but that they have taken their imperfections, worked on them and have become better people.

The Olympics is where Draymond Green starts. The world is watching. He needs to be better.


photo via llananba