ESPN recently published a feature about the Warriors’ struggles to balance Draymond Green’s fiery temperament with his invaluable on-court contributions. The article, written by veteran Golden State beat writer Ethan Sherwood Strauss, is lengthy and contains numerous anecdotes, but one quote popped out, both because of what it said about the team and who said it.
Strauss referred to the fact that Green was suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, something the Cavaliers used as a turning point in their unprecedented rally from a 3-1 deficit. The reporter quoted an unnamed “team official” as saying of the team and Green, “The guys might be frustrated by his antics, but they had an opportunity to prove themselves without him in Game 5 and they played like a bunch of [cowards].”
The fact that the word “cowards” is in brackets indicates that the official likely used a more profane and even less complimentary term for the Green-less Warriors. Nevertheless, Klay Thompson, who led Golden State with 37 points on 11-for-20 shooting in that game, took great exception to the term used in the article, especially given its anonymous source.
“That article p—ed me off for this reason: If you’re going to call someone a coward, how are you not going to put your name to that quote, you know?” Thompson told reporters at the Warriors’ training facility Friday. “To say we played like cowards, and you’re not going to quote the guy who said it, that’s weak to me.”
Steph Curry said he was in complete agreement with Thompson’s comments. “At the end of the day, we’re all competitive, we’re all our own person and we’re all in this thing together, so it’s a ‘If you take shots at Draymond, you take shots at the whole team’ kind of mentality,” Curry said. “Our goal is to not let anything in that locker room that doesn’t come from us, and we do a pretty good job of that.”
Strauss quoted Marreese Speights, who played for the Wariors last season but is now with the Clippers, as saying that despite being “a good guy,” Green’s outbursts during practices “hurt the whole chemistry of the year.” Speights also said, “Draymond and Klay got into it a lot.”
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, who is depicted in the ESPN article as also frequently being at odds with Green, said he was “upset” with the “cowards” shot. “I don’t know who said that,” Kerr told reporters Friday. “I’d guarantee it wasn’t any of our coaching staff. I would be shocked if it was anybody in basketball management.
“We don’t do that. Nobody ever said that to me, not even to the press. But nobody ever said that to me, like, ‘Those guys played like cowards.’ So I have no idea where that came from.”
“It’s upsetting because you want to keep things in house,” Kerr continued. “If somebody wants to say something, then they should put their name on it. If you don’t feel like you can put your name on it, you shouldn’t say it.”
Given their recent success and remarkable collection of talent, including offseason acquisition Kevin Durant, the Warriors were all but guaranteed to be the NBA’s most talked-about team this season. They are already doing plenty of talking among themselves — unhappily so, in this case — and we’ve only just completed exhibition play.