Draymond Green laments suspension costing him 2016 NBA Finals MVP: ‘Good luck leaving me off the NBA 75 if I was Finals MVP’

Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (23) listens to questions during a press conference after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Game 7 93-89 for the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, June 19, 2016. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay A
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Draymond Green has accepted blame for the Warriors losing the 2016 NBA Finals. Golden State blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers only after Green got suspended for Game 5 for flagrantly fouling LeBron James.

Green has also emphasized the silver lining of the Warriors losing that series. Kevin Durant said he wouldn’t have joint them that summer if they had just won the title. With Durant, Golden State won the next two championships and then another Western Conference crown. The Warriors arguably had more total success than they would’ve if Green didn’t get suspended.

But there’s one aspect of the suspension Green won’t sugarcoat.

Green on “The Old Man & The Three“:

The one thing, when I look back on it, that bothers me is I would’ve been the Finals MVP. And that totally changes the narrative. Good luck leaving me off the NBA 75 if I was Finals MVP. Good luck even having a debate if I’m a Hall of Famer or not if I was Finals MVP.

When I look back on that from a selfish standpoint, which I rarely do, I would have been Finals MVP and that changes the course of everything.

Green was the frontrunner for Finals MVP before getting suspended. LeBron was outplaying him, but voters are loathe to honor someone from the losing team. See LeBron the previous year, when Andre Iguodala won Finals MVP. We’ll never know what would’ve happened if the Warriors closed the series in Game 5 or Game 6, but Green was in the driver’s seat for Finals MVP.

Despite his suspension, he still had a chance to nab Finals MVP if Golden State won Game 7. He did his part and then some.

Green had arguably the best NBA Finals Game 7 ever – 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting, 15 rebounds, nine assists and excellent defense.

Green:

I really dominated that game. So, it sucks that we didn’t win it, because you’d always hear about that performance had we won. So, that bothers me. But there’s an old adage: In the end, you normally get what you deserve. And I got what I deserved.

Whether it was right or wrong – do I think I should’ve been suspended? No, I didn’t hit him. I got upgraded to a flagrant foul for trying to hit him. I tried. I definitely tried. He’s on my shoulder. But I missed.

This is classic Green – saying he got what he deserved while arguing he shouldn’t have gotten the flagrant foul that triggered his suspension. He’s trying to walk a fine line where he’s accepting blame for letting LeBron provoke him into doing something that might get called for a flagrant foul while saying the flagrant call was wrong.

But Green is absolutely right: His monster Game 7 has been forgotten because the Warriors lost.

I’m unconvinced a Finals MVP would’ve changed the narrative around Green as much as he thinks, though.

He’s an all-time great player – the best postseason defender of his generation, a superb passer, savvy screener and just incredibly smart player. His versatility unlocked the death lineup. He has been the heart and soul of some great teams.

A Finals MVP would’ve been a feather in his cap, but he should easily make the Hall of Fame, regardless.

As for the 75th anniversary team, Green had a strong case. I’d say a stronger case than teammate Klay Thompson, whose exclusion led to a bigger fuss. But a Finals MVP wouldn’t have necessarily been a silver bullet for Green. Other borderline candidates who won Finals MVP – Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups – didn’t make it.

But we’ll never know, because Green did get suspended, and LeBron led Cleveland back to claim Finals MVP for himself.