It was quite a weekend for Draymond Green. First he told his teammates he was sorry. Then he went out and made the Knicks look very sorry.
Green, Golden State’s versatile hybrid forward, felt his selfishness almost cost the Warriors a win over the 76ers in Philadelphia on Saturday. With startling honesty, he admitted after the 108-105 victory that he had been so obsessed with his own stats, so intent on trying to get a triple-double, that he had almost cost his team a win.
Most popular sports stories
When he entered Sunday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, he vowed not to pay attention to the stat sheet — and a funny thing happened. He got the triple-double he had wanted the day before, contributing 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to help lead Golden State to a 116-95 win over the Knicks. He also shot 9-for-9 from the field, making him 18-for-20 in the last three games.
“I was kinda happy I didn’t get [the triple-double against Philadelphia] because I didn’t deserve it,” said Green, who had 10 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists (and seven turnovers) against the 76ers. “As opposed to today. If it happens, it happens. I’ve never been a numbers guy. That’s not who I am.”
What he is is a tough player for opponents to deal with on both ends of the floor. On a night in which Stephen Curry scored only 13 points and shot 5-for-17, Green helped get the Warriors going on offense. On defense, he did a decent job of frustrating 7-3 rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
“Draymond was great against Porzingis. Pressured him out on the perimeter,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Porzingis is going to be a great player, but he is still young and he is going to get bigger and stronger as he goes, but right now, Draymond has been in the league for a few years and he knows how to put pressure.”
Kerr said the 6-7, 230-pound Green, 25, is a unique sort of player, perfectly suited for today’s game.
“There’s been a lot of forwards who could push the ball and distribute — Grant Hill, Scottie Pippen types,” Kerr said. “Most of those guys were three men. He’s a four. He guards fours. He guards fives. So I don’t remember anybody who checked all the boxes like Draymond has for us. Some of that is the game has changed, so the fours that you guard now are a lot different than the fours you would have had to guard 20 years ago. But his game is perfectly suited for modern NBA.”
Green is a player who wears his emotions on his sleeve. When he found out he had been selected as an All-Star reserve this past week — the team set it up so that his mom delivered him the news during a television interview — he came close to crying, he was so happy.
Kerr said it says a lot about Green that he would apologize for something that anyone who has played a sport on any level is guilty of doing.
“I thought it was great,’’ he said. “I think inherently we are all selfish. We’re human beings. We all want what’s best for us. It’s not a character flaw. It’s innate in all of us. So part of playing at the highest level is can you incorporate that into the team’s best interest and not do it as something that’s going to go away from what you’re trying to accomplish as a group. And it’s possible to do it . . .
“I thought it was really great. I thought it was awesome that he publicly admitted to his teammates he was going for a triple-double and it kind of messed with the flow of the game. I’ve never heard a player admit to that. But the reality of that is everyone could admit to that occasionally.”