Draymond Green was one of three Golden State Warriors players who suited up for Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics, joining Klay Thompson and recent signee Kevin Durant. But when they took the floor at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on July 25 for a tune-up game ahead of the Olympics, those three players were booed.
Was it because the Warriors play in the same division as the Los Angeles Lakers? That might have been plausible if the Lakers were still playoff contenders. Instead, it appears to be a result of the Warriors’ new-found status as the NBA’s “alpha heels,” the team to hate for anyone who doesn’t live in Oakland. With Durant having jumped ship from the Oklahoma City Thunder in this year’s biggest free agent signing, fans have seemingly been conditioned to see the Warriors as the biggest bad guys in the NBA. But if you ask Draymond Green, those boos didn’t mean anything to him.
“I just don’t understand some people,” said Green, speaking to the Mercury News after the Warriors’ second day of training camp. “Even if I hate you and whatever team you play for, if you’re gonna wear a Team USA jersey and represent my country, for one day I can give it up and say, ‘OK, I’m with you for this day.’ They booed us still…More power to those people. They’re angry about something in life. I’m not sure what.”
Following the ascendance of Stephen Curry, and eventually, his fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors had transformed from one of the Pacific Division’s worst to one of its best and most enjoyable to watch. The Warriors captivated fans with their up-tempo style of play, and they succeeded by combining their potent offense with a stifling defense. And when they set a new NBA record by going 73-9 in the 2015-16 season, the Warriors had been, for quite some time, one of those teams even casual fans were familiar with.
That may have all changed, according to the Mercury News, even before the Warriors entered the NBA’s record books for their phenomenal 2015-16 regular season. The publication named several factors that led to the Warriors becoming the ultimate bad guys for a lot of NBA fans, including fans naturally wanting to root for underdogs, and Green’s rough postseason play. And when 2015-16 was over, and the Warriors blew a 3-1 NBA Finals lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, they became even more hated when they signed Durant from Oklahoma City, which many fans saw as a “rich getting richer” situation.
So with all that in mind, the Warriors appear to have lost their status as one of those teams you can root for when your favorite team is struggling. Instead, they’re the NBA’s number one villains, and fans are expected to boo them louder than they’d boo any other visiting team. But once again, Green is unperturbed, and more than willing to play the role of the bad guy on the court. And at the end of the day, it’s all about winning for him.
“Who cares what someone tries to make us out to be?” Green continued. “We’re trying to win basketball games. If they want to make us the villain, that’s fine. They’re gonna boo us anyway everywhere we go, so that’s fine. The most fun I have in this game is going on another team’s floor and quieting their crowd anyway. So boo. Then eventually you’ll shut up. And I’ll laugh. We’ll laugh. And we’ll keep it moving.”
Looking at Golden State’s lineup for 2016, and considering the way Durant’s entry has made a great team even better, there’s a good chance indeed that Draymond Green and the Warriors will be doing a lot of laughing in the coming season.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]