“Your mind…blow it, blow it.”
-David Bowie, “The Gospel According to Tony Day”
I had just logged into WordPress intending to wax enthusiastic about Draymond when I clicked over to see what was happening on Grantland, and up popped this piece by Andrew Sharp:
Do You Love Draymond Green Like a Family Member?
And the answer is yes, yes I do. Andrew does such a good job of explaining why that I am tempted to just leave it at that:
So much of the NBA belongs to people who are gifted beyond comparison and talented beyond comprehension — guys who make impossible skills look routine. Guys like Steph, Klay, even someone like Harrison Barnes. I love Draymond Green like a family member because he was none of those things. He was the regular dude from Michigan who might one day be able to foul people professionally, and through sheer will and self-confidence, he has made himself as irreplaceable as anyone. This is the goddamn American Dream, at least for the 99 percent of us who shouldn’t bother dreaming.
But let me go ahead and add a few words of my own.
I love Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to death, but if I had a son, I would name him Draymond. Even if he was a grown person, I would rename him Draymond, and he would just have to get used to it. If I had five sons, I would name them all Draymond, George Foreman–style.
Yesterday Draymond had 23 points and 6 assists in the Warriors’ latest dismantling of the once-feared LA Clippers, playing ancillary point guard when the Clippers trapped Steph at halfcourt to get the ball out of his hands.* He also played his usual mad-dog defense, guarding everyone from the smallest players on the floor to the tallest. But the reasons to love him go way beyond basketball.
Draymond is who he is because of his attitude. He stays positive, and he works his ass off, and he will not be cowed. He is a gifted with great size and speed relative to a regular human being, but not with the skills of most elite athletes; he plays with his head as much as his body. Dig this passage from Marcus Thompson’s January 8 profile of Draymond for the Mercury News:
Green was raised in a family of trash talkers. The Babers, especially his uncle Bennie and aunt Annette, taught him the finer points of banter from a young age.
“I’m sure my mom taught them how,” Green said of Mary Babers-Green. “She’s the oldest of them.”
That engrained attribute was only fueled by his days playing epic pick-up games at the Civitan Recreation Center, with old heads like former Warriors star Jason Richardson.
And when you play at Civitan, you simply can’t talk trash without backing it up. That’s a good way to get exiled.
However, Green wasn’t a great athlete. He couldn’t hang his hat on high-flying dunks. He couldn’t make a name for himself blowing past defenders. He didn’t have the electrifying handles to embarrass others.
So Green figured out another way he could strut: by winning.
That’s how you get the respect of the old heads. That’s how you get a license to jaw at the best.
When you win, you stay on the court. If you stay on the court long enough, everybody starts realizing you always win. That would be his ultimate rebuttal, the foundation of his swag.
All he had to do was figure out how to stay on the court.
“I had to master all the little things,” Green said. “I didn’t jump the highest. I wasn’t the quickest. I had to be a step ahead. I had to know what they were going to do because they already had a step on me.”
Or this one from another article by Thompson, where he asks if Draymond feels pressure now that he’s playing on a big stage, expected to get a massive contract in the offseason:
Feel pressure for what? Doing what I do has put me in this position. So I just need to keep doing what I do.
Reminding me of my favorite-ever Draymond quote, which I now cannot resist repeating here:
The Warriors didn’t draft me to do what didn’t get me here. They drafted me to do what I did to get here.
Truly, words to live by. The man is a Warrior-poet in the tradition of Sun Tzu or Walter Kurtz. And if that sounds a little hyperbolic, well, why shouldn’t I go out on a limb for Draymond? He’s family, after all.
*Which, by the way, does not happen in professional basketball. You don’t take two players out of the halfcourt defense and leave the rest to play 3-on-4. But that is what teams are doing against Steph, because they are skeered.