The Golden State Warriors like to act like they’re a buttoned-up, professional franchise that abstains from drama. The chemistry and coaching have been likened to the Tim Duncan Spurs or the peak “Onto Cleveland” Patriots. While they’ve had consistent success and won championships like those teams, saying the Warriors are free of drama is categorically false.
Draymond Green is returning to the lineup after a fine, not a suspension, and a mutually-agreed upon hiatus stemming from an altercation with Jordan Poole. The punch leaked ’round the world would be a big deal if Golden State hasn’t been through a low-key lot of drama.
After the Dubs’ preseason game Tuesday, coach Steve Kerr announced the fine for Green and his return to the team. Here’s what he said of the recent locker room turmoil.
“This is the biggest crisis that we’ve had since I’ve been the coach here. It’s really serious stuff. We’re not perfect. … But we’re going to lean on the experience that we have together and trust that this is the best decision for our team. We have a lot of work to do. All of us.”
This isn’t even the biggest crisis involving Draymond. The guy screamed at Kevin Durant in front of a full arena, went on a serial crotch-punching/kicking spree in the playoffs that got him suspended for a crucial Finals game, forgot how to use Snapchat during the Olympic Games, and has his own podcast where he more or less says whatever the fuck he wants and calls it new media.
Kerr himself couldn’t coach for months at the start of the 73-win season, and even though they excelled on the court, it’s not not a distraction. There have been multiple stories about how Durant gradually realized it was Steph Curry’s franchise and fanbase and wanted his own team. That’s not overt drama, but there is an aspect of jealousy and ego involved. Curry can’t control how beloved he is; he also doesn’t shy away from it either.
I’m reminded of the Wedding Crashers rule when Vince Vaughn tells Owen Wilson that if he wants to bring attention to himself, he has to do it in a positive way. That’s all Curry does, and it’s commendable. It also could come off as a little self-involved, like Bradley Cooper telling the otter story that prompts Wilson to put “eyedrops” in his water.
Curry is like the favorite child that can do no wrong who parents love and siblings despise. (Seth has to know what I’m talking about.) The reason why Duncan was the perfect teammate was the way he avoided the spotlight. Timmy D’s offseasons were spent swimming in the Caribbean, drinking wine, and treating media attention like a sane person treats COVID. He easily could’ve been in 1,700 Subway ads, or had a social media presence.
If Kerr and Curry weren’t on Twitter like Bill Belichick, Gregg Popovich, or Duncan, then, yeah, I could buy into this notion that the Warriors actively avoid distractions. Golden State is the most searched team on Google for a reason. There’s always something.
Curry said the organization discussed a trade for Durant internally after his former teammate requested a trade from the Nets this summer, and the fact that it got out publicly isn’t lost on me. A deal for KD would’ve meant a few teammates would be on the move, and trade rumors aren’t new to this team, either.
Before the Splash Bros. had that nickname, Klay Thompson was being dangled for Kevin Love. (Admittedly, nothing seems to phase Klay. He just wants to play with his dog, drive his boat to championship parades, talk to the New York media about scaffolding, and put it all on IG Live.) Harrison Barnes was the odd man out, and the elephant in the locker room, when Draymond was openly wooing Durant before that was officially called tampering. D’Angelo Russell was on the trade block when he got off the plane at SFO.
Think of how big a deal it would’ve been had Kawhi Leonard limped around the Chase Center for a season before getting moved. Leonard is reserved by nature, yet so are the Spurs. San Antonio had a locker room love triangle mid-dynasty, and only Brent Barry and Eva Longoria still remember it.
Even Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob can’t help himself from being a part of the discussion, or did you forget his “we’re light years ahead” of the NBA quote? I’ve been pulling these Golden State stories off the top of my brain they’re so plentiful, but I literally just had to Google “San Antonio Spurs owner” to remember it’s Peter Holt.
Yes, Kerr played under Pop. He also played under Phil Jackson, who oversaw some of the most scrutinized, most drama-filled teams of all time. The amount of stories coming out of that locker room — and the attention paid to them — is more Jordan Bulls and Kobe-Shaq Lakers than Duncan Spurs.
All of this is a long way of saying, no, this isn’t the biggest crisis of the Splash Brothers’ era, and, no, the punch leaked ’round the world won’t be the defining incident that destroys the Warriors.