Draymond Green is right.
Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr, and the rest of the Golden State Warriors locker room should have acknowledged the “elephant in the room” when it came to Durant’s impending free agency following the 2018-19 NBA season.
But that doesn’t mean Durant owed any of them a decision before he was ready.
In an interview with Uninterrupted that was published Monday on YouTube, following the premiere of The Last Dance, Green spoke about the comparisons between the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s and the success of the Warriors franchise in the late 2010s.
Green alluded to what ultimately led to the dismantling of one of the most talented teams in basketball history, when Durant chose to become a member of the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019.
“Kevin took the one-year deal on his own, so that was kind of the elephant in the room, so although Steve’s approach was just like, ‘Hey guys, let’s enjoy this year because we don’t know what next year brings.’ … It didn’t necessarily carry the same weight,” said Green.
“What should have happened is that Kevin come out and say, ‘This is — let’s do this,’ or, ‘This isn’t it.’”
“Every time Klay (Thompson) and myself talked to the media we were asked about our contract and it was strictly due to Kevin. Klay was saying, ‘I want to be a Warrior forever. I’m saying I want to be here for my career,’” Green said. “And then you had Kevin saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do next year, and it don’t matter, but it does matter, because you’re not the only person that has to answer that question.”.
“And to be quite frank with you, you’re honestly the last person that has to answer that question,” Green adde about Durant. “Because you don’t really say shit. Like, you don’t say much to the media, and if anything, you tell them to shut the fuck up.”
The constant pressure from the media about Durant’s next move and the former MVP’s reluctance to commit to the organization long-term could have been enough to rip some of the best teams ever apart. And frankly, that’s exactly what it did to the Warriors.
Tensions around the team continued to build that season and quickly festered to the point of no return when Green reportedly called Durant a “bitch,” telling him, “We don’t need you, we won without you, leave,” in a rant during a November road loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Following the incident, Green was suspended by the team for one game without pay.
There is no debating that Green was out of line on the sideline that night, but that doesn’t make his comments on Durant now any less valid.
The team did suffer because of Durant’s indecision, and his inability to silence the noise that surrounded their team. That is true. But that doesn’t mean Durant should have to lie to the media about how he feels, or make a decision about his future that he isn’t ready to make, all for the sake of easing tensions with the team.
Durant is a grown man, along with every other member of that Warriors team, and this is a business. Many fans and media still expect players to cling to a sense of loyalty that contradicts their own best interest — even though organizations are quick to do the exact opposite.
If there is one thing that The Last Dance has shown us, it’s that it doesn’t matter if it’s 1998, 2008, or 2018, business always comes first.
The number of championship rings doesn’t matter, the camaraderie in the locker room doesn’t matter, and the culture doesn’t matter.
There is little true loyalty in sports.
So why should Durant be forced to put on a facade for an organization that would trade or release any player for the right price?
He shouldn’t. And other players shouldn’t either.
Did Durant owe the Warriors an explanation to alleviate the “elephant in the room”?
Was Green right about those tensions hurting the organization?
Both statements can be true.
The end of the Durant era in Golden State is not about administering blame, it’s about coming to the realization that in business, everyone is in it for themselves.
Every partnership doesn’t always last, no matter how successful.
Often, there’s nothing you can do about that.