LAS VEGAS — As soon as Kevin Durant made the decision to join the Golden State Warriors earlier in July, the team’s villain status was set. That decision was always going to be unpopular, and Durant himself copped to that on Monday. The next day, after practice with Team USA in Las Vegas, his new teammate Draymond Green assured reporters that Durant knew he was getting himself into when he signed in the Bay Area, and he’s ready to be hated.
“If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have made the decision he made,” Green said. “You have to know, with the decision that he made, it was going to come. If he had stayed in OKC, at some point they would have hated him too.”
In joining the Warriors, Durant simultaneously made the 73-win juggernaut stronger and crippled their biggest Western Conference rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the Warriors’ current run of dominance began in the 2014-15 season, they were a likable group of underdogs that quickly became media and public darlings. But they’re the establishment now, and they just added one of the three best players in the world to a group that already had the greatest shooter in the world and two more All-Stars. Not since the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh-era Miami Heat has there been a team this eminently hateable.
The fact that Green is at the forefront of this new Warriors dynasty is itself a testament to how far he’s come since his rookie year, when he was a little-used second-round pick without a position. Green doesn’t like to look back on those years as something too different from what he is now, an All-Star and one of the most polarizing players on the most polarizing team since that 2011 Heat team.
“Everything that’s happened has made it seem like it’s a long time ago,” Green said. “But it really doesn’t feel like a long time ago. I remember those days very clearly.”
Now, the Warriors are hated by pretty much everyone who isn’t a Warriors fan, to a degree they weren’t before, even when it became unpopular to support them. Green is more than fine with that, too. He doesn’t miss the days when no one paid attention to him.
“This is what you play for,” he said. “You play to be the best at what you do. You understand the things that come with that.”