These days, there are hours to fill and weeks to get through. Time is not going to fly by on its own, so we read, binge Netflix, go on runs, have a fourth meal. Or, if you’re Draymond Green, you get in front of a microphone as often as you can and speak your mind.
Draymond’s recent media tour would have you think that he’s starting a new podcast, releasing a book, or retiring. He’s been retrospective and honest almost to a fault; for the NBA news desert we’re currently living in, he’s been an oasis. But what’s gotten Draymond so riled up? Only one subject: Kevin Durant.
The conversation around Durant never seems to cease, even when he hasn’t played a basketball game in nearly a year. This time, he’s being brought up for two reasons. First: The Last Dance—the Michael Jordan docuseries which chronicles the end of the Bulls dynasty—is currently airing on ESPN, and it’s led people to revisit the league’s most recent deconstructed dynasty, the Warriors. Second: Ethan Sherwood Strauss’s book The Victory Machine recently hit shelves, and it chronicles the rise and fall of the Warriors as well as Durant’s role in it.
Through both pieces of content, it’s become evident that while there are many parallels between the ’90s Bulls and those recent Warriors teams, the main contrast is the reason for their demise. One team broke up due to a stubborn general manager, while the other broke up because of an unsatisfied player. Now that player is gone, but Draymond is still talking.
On Sunday’s post–Last Dance reaction show hosted by Uninterrupted (LeBron James’s media company), Draymond said that Durant’s pending free agency was “the elephant in the room” during the 2018-19 season, and that Durant should have come out and said it was his final season with the team if only to avoid the questions that followed them all season—questions Green felt Durant didn’t have to face. “You don’t really say shit. You don’t say much to the media,” Draymond said of Durant.
Later in the week, Draymond joined Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes’s podcast, All the Smoke, and kept discussing Durant’s departure, specifically the notion that Durant left because of him: “You’re fucking Kevin Durant. If you wanted to be here, I would have been out if I was the issue, I would have been long gone,” Draymond said.
Green also said that not getting the title of best player in the world after soundly beating LeBron in the 2017 Finals both bothered Durant and changed his attitude the following season. The full clip is worth a watch, for the Draymond f-bombs alone:
Draymond says he feels KD changed when LeBron was still being considered the best player in the NBA after the 2017 Finals. pic.twitter.com/dJd3yRP492— Chris Montano (@gswchris) April 23, 2020
In the interview, Draymond tried to come off as the more mature person in the relationship: “[Durant’s] feelings about me may not be the same,” he said. “But I’ll ride for him for the rest of my life.” It was the NBA version of telling your ex that you wish them the best.
This is Draymond unfiltered, and the Warriors are probably not pleased that he is popping off. (By comparison, Steph Curry more or less shrugged after Maverick Carter ludicrously said that he could score on Steph.) But based on observations and from actual reporting in Strauss’s book, there is some truth to what Green said. The Victory Machine explores Durant’s need for approval—something he thought he would get from winning—and how he reacted poorly to the apathy he got from Warriors fans who preferred their homegrown star (Steph) over him.
Even so, as much as I appreciate the content Draymond is creating, there’s little to no upside for him to be this vocal. His chatter may end up giving him a post-playing career as the heir to the guy he jousts with the most (Charles Barkley), but the relitigation of the past is starting to feel stale. Additionally, Durant might still end up with the final word, and that’s alongside the two rings and two MVPs he already has.
It’s tough to pin down what Draymond’s motivation is beyond the simple fact that he relishes being a never-ending fountain of trash talk. Part of it seems like frustration that the Warriors couldn’t continue to “ruin the league” and win titles, while the other part seems like venting from a player who attempted (and failed) to bottle things up last season. The tension between Green and Durant was palpable, visible even, when they went at each other at the end of a November 2018 game against the Clippers. The fraying only worsened from there. It’s a minor miracle that the team still made it to the Finals and was just a few games away from a three-peat, just like those 1997-98 Bulls, even after losing Durant and Klay Thompson to injury.
As we can see in The Last Dance, the aftermath of a dynasty is rarely graceful. Golden State may be able to briefly put off its demise because the team still has three Hall of Famers on the roster, but the golden days of being the best team in the world are in the rearview mirror. Still, both parties were supposed to have moved on by now—Durant is rehabbing with the Nets, and Draymond is recovering from a season from hell. Instead, Draymond is sounding off, and who knows if he’s done? Live basketball is still a figment of our imagination right now, but it’s nice to know that the league’s chaos and pettiness is always only a few Durant keystrokes or another Draymond media appearance away. And what’s perhaps an even bigger indictment is that for now, the starved basketball world will take all of it.