There was pressure hanging over the 2018-19 Warriors. They had won two NBA titles in a row, were a heavy favorite to repeat, but Kevin Durant was a free agent at the end of the season and nobody knew if he was going to leave or stay. Including Durant at that point.
Then came a legendary argument in an overtime game against the Clippers in November of 2018, between Draymond Green and Durant where an overheated Green reportedly said something along the lines of, “You’re a b****, and you know you’re a b****. We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave.” Green was suspended for a game by the team. Durant has said that after that incident he withdrew from the team and it was part of the reason he left (joining Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving, and later James Harden). For his part, Green took the blame for what happened but also felt Durant should have been more clear about what his free agency plans were.
The two patched everything up enough to win gold together in Tokyo. When the two discussed the argument publicly — on Green’s new interview series “Chips” on Bleacher Report — Both Durant and Green threw Warriors coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers under the bus for the way they handled the situation. They felt the players should have handled this internally. Here is a transcript of the heart of the discussion, starting with Durant’s response when Green asks if he left because of that argument.
“It wasn’t the argument, it was the way everybody, Steve Kerr acted like it didn’t happen, Bob Myers tried to discipline you and think that would just put the mask over everything. I really felt like that was such a big situation for us, the first time we went through something like that, we had to get that s*** all out.
“I remember watching The Last Dance, and when Scottie [Pippen] didn’t go into the game, the whole team in the locker room said ’Scottie, that was f***** up that you did that.’ We needed that. We just needed to throw all of that s*** out that you did that. We just needed to throw all of that s*** out on the table and say ‘You, Dray, K, like that was f***** up that we even had to go through that. Let’s just wipe our hands of that and go finish the task.’ I don’t think we did that. We tried to dance around it. I just didn’t like how all of that, just the vibe between all of that. It just made s*** weird to me. And I’d rather us be who we say we are, family first. Communication is key. We didn’t show that and that’s what rubbed me the wrong way more than anything.”
Green said that when the team plane landed in the Bay Area later that night after the game, “they” — clearly pointing to team management — told him he needed to apologize. He said he would talk to Durant, but Green didn’t want to be told what to do. The next morning, management and Green met again and, as Green tells it, they then said, “are you ready to apologize?”
“And I told them right then and there, I said, ‘Y’all about to f*** this up.’ I said ‘The only person who can make this right is me and K, and there is nothing you all can do, and y’all are going to f*** this up.” And in my opinion, they f***** it up.”
“I think so too,” Durant answered.
By the way, the entire interview is worth watching; it’s another insight into how KD approaches and processes things.
As it tends to go in fights with family, there is plenty of blame to go around. Nobody’s hands are clean. Not Durant or Green, but it sounds like Kerr and Myers misread the room — they wanted to come in and be the parents when the “kids” are actually adults who wanted the chance to work this out themselves.
Would a team airing of grievances have smoothed over the chemistry issues with those Warriors? Would Durant really have stayed? Save it for an episode of Marvel’s “What If…?” There were a lot of dynamics in play, but what would not have changed is that the five straight seasons going to the Finals (three with Durant) still would physically have caught up with the Warriors. Durant’s torn Achilles, Klay Thompson‘s ACL, and all the other injuries that broke down those Warriors likely still happen. With that year off to rehab, would Durant have stayed or still gone to Brooklyn? Who knows.
But we now know who Durant and Green blame for how things went down.