Draymond Green's intensity, leadership pushes Durant, others
By JANIE McCAULEY
"Life," Green explained, "who drives home faster from the practice facility, who gets to the game earlier. You want us to tell you our whole life?"
KD and Dray have formed quite a bond since way back, when Green was part of the strategic recruiting process to bring Durant to the Bay Area from Oklahoma City before last season.
They've had a few heated moments, too, and both say they are better for it.
And there's no official count - that has been shared, anyway - on who owes who what for losing those friendly wagers.
"Yeah, I'm not in those bets," teammate Shaun Livingston said. "It could be a shot to start the practice, in the corner, anything. It doesn't matter. Wherever. They just walk up to each other all the time, `Bet, bet it, bet it.'"
Green, part of the Warriors contingent in the Hamptons to meet with Durant before the big July 4 decision announcement last year, lit into Durant during a loss to Memphis back in January. Then they got into it again in a three-point defeat at Sacramento on Feb. 4.
"Hollered at me? Ha! We're grown men, ain't nobody hollering at me," Durant said good-naturedly after a recent practice when asked about the animated back-and-forth, as surrounding media members erupted into laughter at his response.
He then chose far more colorful language - and expletives - to describe their heated exchange during a timeout.
Green acknowledges being mad that night. He and Durant are thriving now.
"It just shows the trust that we have in each other, the relationship we have that we can go at each other," Green said. "No one takes it personal. You say what you got to say, I say what I got to say. We figure it out and then we move on. That's kind of what that was. You want to grow from moments like that if you're a strong team, if your chemistry's strong, you grow from moments like that. Chemistry's not so strong, you're not much of a together team, you can crumble from situations like that. But our chemistry is one of the things that makes us special."
Golden State seemed to build from those moments, and the defending NBA champs withstood Durant's absence for 19 games shortly thereafter because of a knee injury.
Livingston is the guy who stood between them that night in the Golden 1 Center, and notes, "They're cut from the same cloth in a sense."
"It's good to have that type of relationship, honestly, because when adversity strikes and things hit, they're not afraid to say anything to each other," Livingston said, "and you need that."
The Warriors' emotional leader has been doing a bit of everything.
After a recent outing, Green stole a look at his stat line and grinned.
He certainly appreciated that performance: 10 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, a season-best five blocked shots, two steals and just one turnover in 31 impressive minutes.
"I like a line like that," he said. "It kind of shows that you did everything on the floor and not just one thing. I definitely enjoy having a stat line like that if it means anything."
It means plenty to the Warriors, who are still working to find a consistent flow this season. They have struggled at times to take care of the ball and handle the basic fundamentals.
That's also typical Green, who lately is also having games in which he catches defenses off guard by knocking down 3-pointers. His teammates love it all.
"I knew he would make my job way easier and I knew I could help him," Durant said. "I knew that his intensity was going to up the level of everybody on the floor, the way he approaches the game, his passion and love for the game. That stuff stood out more than anything. Obviously he's quick for his position, he's got long arms, he can shoot the 3, he can pass, he can rebound, but just his passion and love for the game that kind of shines bright, and it's contagious."
Green raised his right arm in the air on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter of a Nov. 13 win against the Magic, knocking down a 3-pointer from the top of the arc before a layup moments later.
"He's unique from the standpoint of Steph, Klay and KD are guys that can go for 60. But Draymond just impacts the game in so many ways that you've just got to compete against him. You've got to understand that he can do it all," Orlando coach Frank Vogel said.
Green and Durant spent time together as 2016 Olympians in Rio. KD couldn't wait to play with Green regularly - even if they went at it back on Feb. 4 in Sacramento.
"It's just two teammates in the heat of the moment, both needed, at that point, that game, we were all bad," Durant said. "We needed energy somehow. We kind of both sensed that. We came back to the huddle and got after it."
Still, that fire is what Durant loves about his intense teammate. Not to mention the work he puts in shooting from every spot on the floor.
"It means a lot," Green said. "You have to have those guys' trust. If somebody sees you working, they have more trust in that. Obviously as one of the leaders of this team, you should be one of the hardest workers."
In the past three seasons, Green has notched five games with at least five points, five rebounds, five assists and five blocks.
"You understand how impactful he can be without really scoring a lot of points or having any ooh or aah moments on the offensive end," Stephen Curry said. "He has a lot of ooh and aah moments with the hustle plays and defensively. It seems like he's always kind of in the play somehow. We appreciate every little bit of that effort and the results he prides himself in every single time he's out there on the floor. His stat lines sometimes look like this where he's so well-rounded across the board - points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and whatnot - and he'll bang down three, four 3s every once in a while. You appreciate what he brings to the squad every single night and his energy and his passion."
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Updated November 24, 2017