For USA Basketball players, the Olympics have become something of a glorified vacation. Legend has it that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh used the Beijing Games to plot their 2010 coalition, while Kobe Bryant famously took advantage of the opportunity to cheer on Michael Phelps. It’s not quite as laid-back as the All-Star Game — heads rolled after the 2004 team’s disappointing bronze medal in Athens — but it’s not far off, either.
However, this is all about to change: Draymond Green is going to Rio, and he gives 110 percent effort 110 percent of the time.
Green’s ultracompetitiveness is the stuff of legend: We know he can recite the name of each player drafted ahead of him, and he gave up video games because he hates to lose. So it was no surprise when, on Monday, at a Team USA youth clinic in Harlem, Green told the media that the Warriors’ NBA Finals loss “will never wear off. We had an opportunity to win a championship.” This should strike fear into the hearts of Team USA’s Group A opponents, because an extra-motivated Draymond is liable to go off in the prelims.
Fair warning, Greivis Vasquez: You should probably wear a cup when Venezuela takes on Team USA. So, too, should every player on China, Australia, and any other team that happens to face the Americans. Hell, every male Olympian should wear one, just in case Green instinctively kicks his leg out when someone brushes by him in the Olympic Village.
If Green is somehow able to avoid sparking a conflict with his opponents, he’s still a major threat to Team USA itself. After Harrison Barnes’s atrocious Finals performance, can’t you see him getting overly physical with Barnes in practice? Just imagine if Barnes flees Golden State next month! Klay Thompson will have to play peacemaker constantly, and Game 7 hero Kyrie Irving would be wise to avoid Green at all costs, despite Green’s hollow pleasantries: “But that don’t mean I am coming into this like, ‘Oh man, I am mad at Kyrie.’ Number one, they beat us, so you respect that. Number two, we are here for this. It is not about anybody’s personal feelings. It is about representing the country.” (Presumably, Green’s mic got cut off before he was able to say, “And number three, I’m going to dunk this dude into Guanabara Bay during practice.”)
Green will be to Team USA what J.J. Watt is to the Pro Bowl, which is to say way too competitive — and probably unproductive to boot. Practices are going to be a pain in the ass. I mean, can’t you see Green spending every waking moment trying (and failing) to imitate LeBron’s block of Andre Iguodala?
The silver lining for Team USA is that, with a fired-up Green, it doesn’t matter how many players opt out of the Olympics. Barring a (very possible) disqualification for too many flagrant fouls, Green will surely guide the Americans to gold. That’s a pretty good consolation prize in lieu of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.