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Friday, October 07, 2022

Draymond Green is Who We Thought He Was

Eventually, people reveal who they are such that there can be no doubt about who they are. Some people are skillful at carefully crafting an image, but the truth inevitably comes out. If you are a bully who has anger control/emotional control issues, then the spin control narrative that you "need to play with an edge to be successful" will eventually be shattered by the reality that you don't have an edge--you have anger control/emotional control issues.

Draymond Green has been a polarizing figure for a long time. Some people claim that he is a smart and great player who has been indispensable to Golden State's success. I have consistently asserted that Green "is a very good player who can have a positive impact, but at the core he is an undersized power forward who is not a scoring threat and who can be overpowered by any big player who has a modicum of skill. There is no way that Green could be the best player on a playoff team, and no one would have ever heard of him if he had not been blessed to play with multiple All-Star caliber players throughout his career." I have also observed that Green "is permitted to repeatedly throw opposing players to the ground, hit opposing players with forearms and/or elbows aimed above the neck, and instigate confrontations while only being punished with one technical foul. As ABC's Jeff Van Gundy has repeatedly noted, there is a bizarre double standard that works in Green's favor: Green is expected to behave poorly, so he is therefore given a benefit of the doubt that is not given to players who are more mild-mannered."

In short, Green is a very good player, but he is also overrated, and he has anger control/emotional control issues that have yet to be addressed because his conduct is not regulated by the league or by his team.

The video of Green walking up to his teammate Jordan Poole in a practice and then, after Poole lightly shoved him, hitting Poole in the face with a vicious closed-fist punch that visibly wobbled Poole confirms much of what I have said about Green. The only point to add is that bullies who have anger control/emotional control issues tend to pick on smaller people, as was the case with this battery (legally, assault is threatening to hit someone, while battery is actually hitting someone--Green may have committed assault, but there is no question that he committed battery). Green may be willing to commit a dirty foul against anyone, but I am not sure that he would walk up to someone his own size and punch him in the face.

Now that the video has been leaked to the public, it will be interesting to see what the Warriors and the NBA do. There is a big difference between a practice skirmish or even a practice fight, and a player delivering a punch with tremendous force to his teammate's face. 

Green should be suspended without pay for a large number of games. The NBA excels at detecting which way public opinion winds are blowing, so how media members (and social media commenters) react to Green's battery of Poole will probably play a significant role in determining the extent of the discipline that Green receives--but, whatever, the outcome, the truth about who Green is and what he is about is very clear. Some of us have understood the truth for a while, but perhaps others needed the video evidence.

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posted by David Friedman @ 4:27 PM



At Saturday, October 08, 2022 9:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Seems to me like Green should have been arrested and charged with battery and perhaps assault as well. His sucker punch of Poole's face was way beyond the "scope of employment". I've heard some pundits argue that fisticuffs sometimes happen in practice, like when Jordan punched Kerr. I get that a fight between basketball teammates is somewhat different than a fight between fellow accountants in the back office. I get that skirmishes invariably happen between testosterone-filled 20- to 30-something year old world-class athletes who are insanely competitive, perhaps to a fault.

But even conceding all that, video proof shows that what Green did was way beyond the pale. It was a criminal assault plain and simple. Green should actually have been arrested and charged. Competitive juices overflowing and punches getting thrown, I'd argue, more often than not are within the scope of employment for sports teammates. Not this.

Also, I agree with you that we've known for a long time that Green is a cheapshot artist and bully, like, he's so much bigger than Poole. Like you, I doubt that he'd punch somebody his own size like that. Hell, Durant probably checked his bullshit partly because he's taller than Green, although much skinnier.

At Monday, October 10, 2022 3:44:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree that Green "should have been arrested," but the reality is that professional sports are usually treated as being separate from (and above) the law, unless the victim is not a fellow athlete. If Green had punched a "civilian" like that then he would have been arrested immediately. Here, unless Poole presses charges the police are not likely to intervene.

I think that Draymond Green and Patrick Beverley are similar: loud mouthed players who worked hard to reach the NBA, but who are also cheap shot artists whose reputations for basketball excellence are inflated well above their actual contributions. Of course, Green is a much more impactful player than Beverley, but both are overrated--and Green's punch to Poole is a much worse act than anything that Beverley has done, even though his cheap shot versus Westbrook apparently caused greater damage (Westbrook needed surgery, while we have not heard that Poole needed medical treatment).

At Tuesday, October 11, 2022 9:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know man, this all seems a little pearl-clutchy to me.

Draymond's for sure a jerk, don't get me wrong.

But arrest? Over a practice punch? Should MJ have gotten the cuffs for punching Kerr? Should Kobe have spent the night in stir for sucker-punching Samaki Walker? Should Hakeem of gone to jail for any of the half-dozen or so dudes he popped?

Kareem maybe shoulda for ending Kent Benson, I guess.

I think this is the kinda thing that's only a story because it's a story, you know? As long as it doesn't escalate or repeat why not just fine the dude and move on?

At Tuesday, October 11, 2022 10:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Each situation is different, with different contextual factors. Jordan and Kerr had a fight in practice. That is a "normal" occurrence in the context of pro sports. Bryant sucker-punching Walker over a shooting contest debt is battery, albeit a younger, smaller player hitting an older, bigger player. Olajuwon was in many different altercations, and I am not going to break down each one here.

Kent Benson cheap-shotted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and was not even called for a foul, and this had become a regular experience for Abdul-Jabbar, who--after regaining his breath--hit Benson square in the face. Like the Jordan-Kerr practice fight, I would characterize this more as "normal" and less as battery.

To be clear, Jordan, Bryant, and Abdul-Jabbar each deserved to be disciplined for their conduct, but I am not convinced that the justice system needed to be involved.

Green's behavior with Poole is different for several reasons. One, Poole never hit Green and they were not in a fight. Poole's push to Green's chest was a "get out of my face" gesture, not an "I want to rumble" gesture. Green immediately reacted by hitting Poole full force in the face. That is not a practice fight a la Jordan versus Kerr, nor is that an in game fight a la Abdul-Jabbar versus Benson. That is battery.

Further, Green has a history of kicking people in the groin, committing dirty fouls, and generally acting like a reckless jerk. In short, he is a repeat offender. Jordan and Bryant did not make a career out of dirty plays and hitting people (fighting was more common for Abdul-Jabbar and Olajuwon, but fighting is also different than escalating a pushing match into basically knocking out a much smaller teammate who is not known as a fighter or instigator).

Green is not going to be arrested and charged. We all know that. I just think that when conduct strays that far even from the looser norms accepted in the sports world it should not be considered off limits to involve the justice system. Maybe if guys like Green faced real consequences they would learn the value of self-control before hurting someone else (or getting hurt).

Would you feel differently about Green now if he had fractured Poole's face the way that Kermit Washington broke Rudy Tomjanovich's face? Green was out of control. He could have seriously injured or even killed Poole, if not from the force of the initial blow then from the risk of Poole hitting the back of his head on the floor had he not kept his balance or been held up by others.

At Thursday, October 13, 2022 10:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm really disappointed that the Warriors didn't suspend Green. What message does that give to the millions of kids who follow the NBA?

At Thursday, October 13, 2022 12:10:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I share your disappointment. This sends a very bad message across the board, not just to kids, and that message is that if you are an NBA player whose team thinks that you are valuable then you have license to punch a teammate in the face without facing any serious discipline or repercussions. Put yourself in Jordan Poole's shoes for a moment. What is he supposed to do the next time Draymond Green walks up on him? Green is significantly bigger and stronger than Poole, and now Poole knows that Green can hit him in the face without consequence. If Poole runs and calls the police, he will be mocked for being "soft" and breaking the "code." Is Poole supposed to get a gun to protect himself? Is he supposed to hire a bodyguard?

I wonder what the Warriors' sliding scale of "justice" is. I am pretty sure that Green cannot hit Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson without repercussions. If Poole is a fair target, then we can assume that Green can hit most of the other players on the roster without repercussions. What if Green hits a video assistant or low-ranking team employee? That type of person might very well file charges. A civilian not employed by the Warriors would almost certainly file charges.

Don't forget that the Warriors suspended Green one game for calling Durant a name! So, we can clearly see that hurting the feelings of an MVP-level player matters more than punching a good player in the face.

Enabling Green to get away with this all but guarantees future bad conduct by Green. He has behaved poorly in the past and gotten away with this, and the Warriors have reinforced Green's belief that he can do whatever he wants to do.

At Thursday, October 13, 2022 3:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would I feel differently if Green broke Poole's face? Yeah, probably.

But I'd also feel different if MJ broke Kerr's face, or if Kobe broke Walker's, or if whoever broke whoever's, you know?

I'm guessing most adult men in the world have been punched in the face at some point, had a black eye from it. It sucks, but it's not really all that big a deal in the long run. Broken face has a lot more impact on your day to day.

You actually damage somebody, then I think the math does change. But Green didn't do any lasting damage, at least from what we know.

He for sure should have been suspended. But I don't see it as some horrible criminal act that's worse than all those other guys. Of the stories we're talking about, Kobe's feels the closest to that, and even that one to me feels more like Kobe probably shoulda just gotten his ass beat for it (and Walker did offer, if I remember the book right), at most.

Other thing I'd say is we only saw that one clip of it. We don't know what led up to it. The MJ Kerr punch was pretty similar, with MJ just hauling off and swinging on a (smaller) dude, but it was preceded by Kerr fouling him a bunch and talking shit. We don't know how much Poole did to provoke that response.

Not saying that excuses it or nothing, but it might put it in the same category with a punch we as the NBA universe have all decided to be fine with because somebody we like is the one who threw it.

At Thursday, October 13, 2022 4:17:00 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

I think Golden State's biggest priority is defending their championship and they aren't going to let Green's petulant lunacy get in the way of that even if it means looking the other way on an incident that deserves a much more severe punishment than they issued him. Draymond Green is a human tire fire and I'm having trouble imaging a scenario where he is ever truly held accountable for his toxic nonsense. Green played a huge role in recruiting Durant to the Warriors and he reportedly played a notable role in Durant's departure as Durant grew tired of his childish outbursts.

At Thursday, October 13, 2022 5:37:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Did you watch the video of Green's punch? It is a minor miracle that Green did not break Poole's face. Green leaped into that punch. This was not two guys having a minor scuffle. That punch was vicious. I can't compare it to Jordan's punch or Kobe's punch because I did not see those punches. Also, it is possible that Jordan and Kobe should have received harsher punishments than they did; if they were not punished correctly that should not give Green license to do what he did.

What Green did merited a multi-game suspension. In my opinion, it merited criminal prosecution, but I understand that the mentality of pro athletes is generally to not file charges.

I am not "fine" with any of the situations that you mentioned, but I also think that some situations were/are worse than others. I don't care what Poole said--unless Poole threatened Green with imminent bodily harm, Green had no justification to walk across the court and punch Poole in the face with that much force.

If the NBA continues to enable Green's misconduct, it will not be too long before he does something serious outside of the confines of the NBA's ability to protect him, which could have serious consequences for an innocent person and result in criminal charges for Green. He is a loose cannon.

At Thursday, October 13, 2022 5:43:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree with everything you said.

I would add that I think that Green has always been overrated, though it is apparent that the Warriors think he is valuable enough to be treated with kid gloves. There may not be one player who can do the specific things that he does in terms of defense, rebounding, and playmaking, but I think that collectively the group would be fine without him. There are other defenders on the roster, there are other players who can rebound, and there are multiple players who can be playmakers.

If Green played for a bad team, no one would know who he is (or he would only be known as the lunatic who kicks people in the groin and punches people). The things he does add some value to a team that is already very good, but he is not a franchise player; you could put Jordan or Kobe with a bunch of average NBA players and make the playoffs, but if you put Green with a bunch of average players you would have a one way ticket to the Draft Lottery.

At Friday, October 14, 2022 1:41:00 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

Yeah, Green is certainly valuable in the context of Golden State's system but his standalone value isn't nearly as high as many people seem to think it is and he flat-out is not irreplaceable. Green, unsurprisingly, seems to be the most unaware of this and I think this goes a long way in explaining why he appears to believe that his constant outbursts are justified.

If the Warriors tried to trade Green they might be able to get something of comparable value or even get a team to over-trade for him, I could see the Lakers doing this out of desperation if their season starts to head down the same path as last season, but a more likely scenario is that there would be minimal interest throughout the league. Every team in the league at some point has had a front row seat to "The Draymond Green Show" and I don't think any of them were amused by it.

At Friday, October 14, 2022 10:17:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Green's lack of self-awareness about both his value and his behavior is glaring.

I think that Green would be very difficult to trade, particularly considering the contract he has and the contract that he expects to get. I suspect that the difficulty of trading Green is part of the reason that the Warriors did not discipline him more harshly; they are stuck with him for at least this season, and they don't want to squander the opportunity to go for a repeat championship.


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