Draymond Green has been watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance” just like the rest of us, but for him, it’s more than just compelling entertainment. He sees a parallel between the situation with coach Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls and what his Golden State Warriors went through with Kevin Durant.
It was known before the 1997-1998 season that Jackson wouldn’t be returning to the Bulls for the next season, meaning the superteam was headed for splitsville. With the Warriors during the 2018-2019 season, no one knew if Durant would re-sign with the Warriors or go somewhere else, also splitting up a dominant team.
Green discussed “The Last Dance” and how the uncertainty of Durant’s future affected the Warriors on Uninterrupted’s “WRTS: After Party” with Maverick Carter and Paul Rivera. And in true Draymond style, he didn’t hold back.
“…Kevin took the one-year deal on his own. So that was kind of the elephant in the room,” Green said, via ESPN. “And although [coach Steve Kerr]’s approach was like, ‘Hey, guys, let’s approach this year because we don’t know what next year brings,’ you’ve got Kevin’s contract, you’ve got [Klay Thompson]’s contract, and I kind of got thrown in that contract thing… And so that was kind of the elephant in the room, and although Steve would kind of hit on it, [saying] ‘Let’s just enjoy this year for what it is because we don’t know what next year holds,’ it didn’t necessarily carry the same weight because what should have happened was Kevin come out and say, ‘Hey, man, this is it, so let’s do this,’ or, ‘This isn’t it.'»
Green blames Durant for the overall feeling on the team, because Durant never came clean about what he planned to do next season. Green feels that affected everything, especially because the media was constantly asking him and other Warriors players what Durant was going to do.
«But you can’t just leave the elephant in the room, because what happened is the question came to us every day. Every time we spoke to the media, Klay and myself was asked about our contracts and it was strictly due to Kevin, because while that was going on, Klay was saying, ‘I want to be a Warrior forever. Like, I want to be here, we started this thing. This is where I want to be.’ I’m saying I want to be here for my career, we started this, we built this, I want to finish my career here with the guys I started it with.
«And then you kind of 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 because you don’t really say s—, you don’t say much to the media, if anything, you tell them to ‘Shut the f— up.’ Well, I don’t tell them to ‘Shut the f— up.’ I kind of have a conversation. So I’m stuck answering that question all the time. And due to that, there was always an elephant in the room amongst us as opposed to [the Bulls]. They didn’t have that elephant.»
Green feels that the Bulls were in a better position than the Warriors, because the Bulls knew for sure that Jackson wasn’t coming back and and they were playing their last season together. Durant never told anyone what he planned to do, which left everyone always wondering.
“[General manager Jerry Krause] had said it was Phil’s last year. Phil had told them this was the last dance. Mike already said, ‘Well, if Phil ain’t coming back next year, I’m not either.’ So everybody knew it was Mike’s last year. They didn’t have that elephant. Whereas I think we had a huge elephant sitting in the room, and Steve was trying to address it as best as he could, but it was kind of out of his hands.»
The Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals last season, and Durant announced his move to the Brooklyn Nets as soon as free agency began. There were many more factors that went into that championship loss besides the Durant situation — Green touches on some of them in his interview, which is available to watch in full on YouTube — but “The Last Dance” seems to be giving Green a chance to reevaluate his feelings about that Warriors team, and why they ultimately failed to win their third straight championship.
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