CLEVELAND -– Draymond Green walked to his designated interview location Wednesday afternoon, took a seat and let it all out.
He made no attempt to conceal the ache in his heart, the void in his soul or his internal disappointment for putting himself in position to be suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, a potential closeout game in which a stunningly listless effort earned the Warriors a loss.
And though Green did not issue a specific apology -– he’d already addressed his teammates –- he opened with a nearly three-minute statement in which it was evident he will take the floor for Game 6 Thursday night feeling indebted to everyone who cares about the Warriors.
“First off, to acknowledge that, it is what it is,” he began. “I missed Game 5. It’s done and over with now. I let my teammates down not being in the game, regardless of whether I want to jump and say, ‘Oh, man, it wasn’t that much,’ or whether someone else wants to have an opinion and say, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that much.’ Or ‘I shouldn’t have been suspended.’ Or ‘He should have been suspended.’
“At the end of the day, everybody’s going to have their opinion on it. And at this point, it don’t matter anymore. We lost Game 5; we’re here for Game 6. I have to be better and not put myself in that position to where it is a decision, where there is an investigation. I have to be better for my teammates as a leader of this team. I can’t put myself in that position to where I can’t be there for my teammates on the floor. I do my teammates no justice in street clothes watching the game at the A’s game.
“I thank the people over at the A’s for having me. I had as good of a time as I possibly could, watching my teammates. (The A’s) were great. They showed great hospitality, and I owe it to my teammates to come back and give all that I have, all that I can do to better this situation.
“I have strong belief that if I play Game 5, we win. But I didn’t, because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play. My teammates fought and didn’t play well and still, with six minutes to go were down six points. But continued to battle and battle. It’s on me to come out and help that battle. Not come out and try to be the superstar, try to be the hero, try to be the saving grace, none of that stuff because being a superstar saving grave hasn’t gotten us this far. Being a great team has gotten us this far.
“So to come back and be a piece of that great team, that’s what I owe to this team. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing. I’ll move on from the suspension. We move on. It was Game 5; we’re here in Game 6. So it’s behind us.
“We’ve got an opportunity to do something that I don’t know if it’s ever been done, where someone -– maybe it has with the Lakers and the Celtics and all those guys -– but where you win a championship on someone else’s floor two years in a row. We’ve got that opportunity. It’s a fun one. It will be tough; Cleveland’s a very good team. They’ve had some guys find their stride in Game 5. We look to come out and stop that stride and try to get a win on their floor in Game 6. I look forward to that opportunity.”
Surrounded by a swell of humanity wielding dozens of cameras and recorders and notepads, Green talked of learning how to better control his emotions because that’s where he went astray in Game 4, resulted in his being suspended for Game 5.
Which, in his mind, made him a “bad teammate.”
Though no foul was called on the play that led to the NBA-mandated suspension – Green in Game 4 flicked a hand toward the groin and shoulder areas of Cavs star LeBron James, who had flung him to the floor and stepped over him – Green realized he lost his composure at a time when he had compiled enough foul points to warrant a suspension.
Watching Game 5 from a suite at the Coliseum, adjacent to Oracle Arena, was for Green a “brutal” and weird experience. There was the sheer isolation and helplessness that was only partially assuaged by the presence of Warriors general manager Bob Myers in the suite, as well as text messages from CEO Joe Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber.
Green vows there will be no repeat, that he won’t allow his machismo to overpower his intellect or even cloud his snap judgment.
“Whether it’s pride, whether it’s -– however you want to label it -– whatever that is, has to go behind being a good teammate,” he said. “That can never jump in front of that. Like I said, I put myself in position to where I couldn’t be out there. And the way I view it, it’s awful. Terrible teammate. And I take pride in being better.
“So, if anything, it’s being great teammate at all costs.”