SAN FRANCISCO, United States, Jun 2 – Draymond Green believes keeping locker room egos in check has carried the Golden State Warriors back to the NBA Finals.
The 32-year-old forward can still recall the early years of his Warriors career, when team-mates were sometimes deployed to give out free game tickets to passengers on San Francisco’s subway system.
On Thursday, Green will be one of the pivotal figures for the Warriors as they host the Boston Celtics at their gleaming $1.4 billion Chase Center home in game one of the NBA Finals.
It will mark Green’s sixth trip to the NBA Finals in the past eight seasons, reflecting the Warriors’ remarkable transformation from punchline to powerhouse.
Green, along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, has been a virtual ever-present on a journey that he believes is the result of an even-keeled locker room that “keeps egos in check.”
“I think that’s a huge part of it, and just understanding the pecking order and respecting the pecking order. Not getting so caught up in what’s in it for you,” Green said. “What’s ultimately in it for you is winning, and when you win, everyone wins. Everybody eats, as we like to say.”
Green also has no trouble putting the Warriors success into perspective when recalling the franchise that he joined in 2012.
“We were the last-ranked defense in the league. We won 23 games. We’d been to the playoffs one time in at that point it was ten or eleven years or something like that, maybe a little more,” Green said.
“That was kind of the aura that was around. We just came in hungry and wanted to change that, and we did.
“But it wasn’t always this. I remember walking in downtown Oakland giving away tickets to the game as a rookie for one of our team activations or community things, and certain guys had to go on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and give tickets away. I remember that. That wasn’t that long ago.”
Green says that two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Curry does as much as anyone to make the Warriors locker room an ego-free zone.
“When your leader and the face of your franchise is that way, you have no choice but to be that way,” Green said.
“What’s your ego compared to his? Why would any of us care if you have an ego, and he doesn’t?
“It definitely sets a tone, not only for players but for everyone in this organization, and how everyone operates. There’s open-door policies. We put our brain together and try to figure out solutions because ultimately the guy who is leading the charge on all of this, he’s that way, so there’s no right for anyone else to be that way.”
– The whole journey –
For Curry, who was disparaged as too small or too slight earlier in his career before going on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time, modesty is deeply ingrained.
“I remember where I started and just the whole journey,” Curry said on Wednesday.
“You remind yourself of that every day. The fact that from high school to your first All-Star Game, everything that had to go right in your life and on the court for that to happen.
“Never let myself get too big-headed on that front. That’s how I live my life.”