The immediate fallout of Draymond Green’s interview with Kevin Durant on Wednesday focused on the two former Warriors teammates rehashing their November 2018 argument during a timeout against the Clippers at Staples Center. The incident has been portrayed as the beginning of the end of Durant’s three-season Warriors tenure that produced back-to-back championships and three straight NBA Finals trips.
But in their interview, Green and Durant did not take ownership for the fight, instead choosing to blame head coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers for mishandling the situation by not letting the players smooth things over themselves.
That’s some convenient revisionist history. Let’s go back and look at the facts.
At the time, the glow of a championship repeat had been replaced by the monotony of a three-peat pursuit, and Durant’s body language — in Game 14 of the 2018-19 season — was already giving signals that the two-time Finals MVP and soon-to-be free agent was not happy. Kerr, in the years since Durant’s departure, has described how challenging it got coaching the team. And in that Clippers game, Green’s frustration with a seemingly disnterested Durant led to Green questioning Durant’s commitment, leading to their now-infamous confrontation that was caught on camera and became the backdrop of a season that ended with a Finals defeat to Toronto.
This is not the first time Warriors brass will have to put out a fire started by Green. They’ve come to expect and tolerate the dynamics that come with the outspoken Green, who was the heartbeat of the Golden State dynasty and continues to be the Warriors’ inspirational leader. With Draymond, you take the good with the bad, and Wednesday was just another example of the latter. A conversation between player and coach and GM surely will take place before training camp begins in October.
If winning gold with Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics wasn’t enough proof that Green and Durant have smoothed things over, their 24-minute sit-down conversation on “Chips,” Green’s Bleacher Report show, confirmed it. They’re cool with each other, so much so that Durant was pretty frank about what it’s like to play with Green.
“The person that went too far was always Draymond Green,” Durant said. “But you pushed it to the limit where it’s like, ‘It’s cool for me to be who I am and not apologize for it all the time.’ Because you don’t mean no harm to anybody. But s— that you want it done, you want it done. And we all respected that. And we all kind of looked up to that as guys coming into the league and want into fit into this system so bad.”
But there’s no ignoring that the interview was self-serving for Green and Durant, namely the reframing of their 2018 blowup at Staples that, according to Durant, did not cause him to leave Golden State. Their talk was most illuminating when Green had Durant address certain subjects that have dogged him over the years.
Here’s what Durant had to say.
Durant on why his view of the media has changed
“I felt like the media knew more than me. I almost had them on a pedestal of like they got more history and knowledge of the game, they have more experience than me in this area, of the NBA. So once I started to get more experience, I realized like they can never be what I am or know what I know or understand it the way I understand it. Some of the questions — they didn’t seem so intelligent to me anymore. People wanted to praise me more than I like or hate me more than I like, make a big deal out of so much other s—. I was just like, this game is simpler to me. So some of the stuff that you’re asking really doesn’t move me the way that it used to. I just started to see life different. I can see this game different. So, of course, my answers and questions about what goes on is going to be different, too. I just chalk that up to maturity and experience.”
Durant on why he’s such a target on social media
“I just think people are still upset that I went to the Warriors, a lot of people who are Cavs fans, who enjoyed watching beat y’all before, which is a lot of people. A lot of people enjoyed seeing you lose in 2016. A lot of people were upset that we were so good and they’re still upset. Because you do the same s— on Twitter. Damian Lillard does the same s— on Twitter. C.J. McCollum does the same s— on Twitter. We all do the same s— on Twitter, but for me, it’s a problem. I mean, I chalk it up to just me being so good at what I do and playing with a team that was so great and we fit so well (that) nobody likes a great thing. I guess I was the cause of that great thing because I came and joined. So it’s way deeper than what I do on Twitter. And I understand that. And it’s funny to me at this point. Because you can’t erase what we did. You’re never gonna erase it. And you know you loved watching us play. … But that’s really what it is — so many people still upset with me that I chose to play basketball with the Golden State Warriors. Which is sad at this point.”
Durant on whether he regrets leaving the Warriors
“No, I don’t have any regrets at all. I felt like we did exactly what we were supposed to do. I wished we would’ve three-peated because that’s rare, and we were like right there. But I don’t have any regrets at all because I feel like if we would’ve stayed healthy with the Nets, we had a great chance to finish it too. No, I mean, being hurt for that year really changed my perspective on everything I was doing and everything I did before. I looked at that time playing with the Warriors as so special to me, but it was time to move on.”