Home News Steve Kerr addresses Draymond Green’s season ahead of Gobert rematch

Steve Kerr addresses Draymond Green’s season ahead of Gobert rematch

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MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since Nov. 14, when Draymond Green put Rudy Gobert in a choke hold, the two centers who have defined this generation of defense will share a court.

Green and Gobert’s personal rivalry reached its apex that night, when Green earned a five-game suspension for putting Gobert in a headlock less than two minutes into the game. Green was coming to the defense of Klay Thompson, who was tangled up with Jaden McDaniels, and later said he didn’t regret his actions. Gobert described Green’s role in the skirmish as “clown behavior.”

Four months later, Green and Gobert meet again, this time in Target Center. Before their rematch, Warriors coach Steve Kerr details Green’s tumultuous season that nearly went completely haywire after the Gobert choke.

“What he did that night to Rudy was just awful,” Kerr said. “Just dead wrong.”

After Green served his five-game suspension, he only played five more games before crossing the line again. In Phoenix, he struck center Jusuf Nurkic in the face, earning an indefinite suspension.

“Clearly, it didn’t affect him enough, the suspension,” Kerr said. “I think he got suspended (five) games. But that didn’t affect him enough to change his behavior, because when he came back, he took the swing at Nurkic in Phoenix. I really think his career was on the line at that point. I really do. Like, the way our discussions with the league, the nature of the suspension — indefinite — it was clear that the league wanted to see real change. And we all did.”

Green stayed away from the Warriors while being indefinitely banned and reportedly sought counseling to meet the league’s conditions to return. He ended up missing 16 games.

At that point, Green had been ejected three times and suspended twice. He has long been a fiery player and has routinely been among the league leaders in technicals. But his erratic behavior, starting with punching Jordan Poole before last season, had taken a darker turn.

“I’ve said this many times, yelling at the ref or getting a flagrant foul, that’s just being a competitive NBA player. But when you strike someone, when you grab somebody by the throat, that’s different. So what was happening was different. Punching Jordan (Poole) was different. And scary, and alarming.”

Since returning to the Warriors in mid January, Green has avoided major incidents. Kerr has said that the power forward has needed to balance  being competitive and aggressive without acting out in a way that could risk his availability to the team.

Green has been whistled for a handful of technical fouls, but hasn’t been ejected from a game. He recently got involved in a dust-up with Santi Aldama and Desmond Bane, but no one got thrown out in the brouhaha.

“I could not be more proud of Draymond for the way he has handled everything since the suspension ended,” Kerr said. “We were all wondering, could you really make a significant change within a month? Could you still play at a high level if you did make that change? Could you still be an effective player? Could you still be a leader on your team? How do you figure all that stuff out? Draymond is one of the smartest, most emotional people I’ve ever met. Passionate. And he’s done it. He’s figured it out.”

In Minnesota, Green and Gobert match up in a battle of elite defenders. With his hoops I.Q. and rare ability to guard every position, Green revolutionized how teams play defense in the NBA. Gobert has three Defensive Player of the Year trophies compared to Green’s one.

 

During All-Star weekend in 2022, Green said he doesn’t appreciate when people compare him with the Timberwolves center, saying “we’re not alike.”

Competing against Gobert and Minnesota will be another test for Green and his ability to toe the tightrope of playing with emotion and letting his emotions overcome him.

“He’s walked the line perfectly,” Kerr said. “Gotten a couple techs for yelling at the refs, but he has not crossed that line, nor do I expect him to. I hate that that happened to Rudy and to Nurkic. I hate that that happened to Jordan. I’ve said this many times, I hate that all that happened. But I couldn’t be more proud with the way Draymond has responded, and he’s gotten his career and his life back on track. It’s wonderful.”



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