Draymond Green-Jordan Poole drama adds plot twist to Warriors’ quest to defend their championship

OPINION: Intrasquad friction is fairly routine, but a viral video of the fight changes everything, ensuring that every interaction between the teammates will be dissected and analyzed throughout the season.

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts with teammates Draymond Green #23 and Jordan Poole #3 after shooting a three point basket to become the NBA's all-time leader during the first quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on December 14, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Intriguing drama and juicy storylines never cease in the NBA, where happenings outside the lines—trade demands, rumored deals and players’ beefs command equal billing. It’s like their on-court exploits are mere subplots in a soap opera.

Is Russell Westbrook destined to be a short-timer with the Lakers? Can the Nets fully depend on Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons showing up? How will the Celtics respond without Ime Udoka as their head coach?

Will Draymond Green coldcock another one of his teammates at the Warriors’ next practice?

Wednesday night, news broke of “an altercation” between Green and Jordan Poole. By Friday, TMZ Sports had obtained and released video of the incident, and it’s not a good look for anyone involved, especially Green. The volatile forward, standing 6-feet, 6-inches and weighing 235 pounds, attacked the wiry guard (6-4, 194 pounds) with a vicious right cross.

Considering our appetite for messiness, the punch provided a full-course meal for those who care to consume. “That boy would’ve had to see me until I retired out the NBA,” Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson tweeted. Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young tweeted: “Draymond is tryna get to LA. Damn!”

Just like that, Green inserted a twist in Golden State’s quest to defend the championship. “It’s the NBA,” Warriors GM Bob Myers told reporters Thursday. “It’s professional sports. These things happen. Nobody likes it. We don’t condone it, but it happened. Draymond apologized to the team this morning. Jordan was there in the room.”

No first-time offender, Green habitually steps on the line of acceptable behavior. Role models don’t slug teammates who are much younger and smaller, but Green has never been a great example of personal comportment. He’s been the same emotional player since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2012, with an inner fire that upgrades his unremarkable physical gifts.

He has taken a swipe at LeBron James’ nuts, called then-teammate Kevin Durant a “bitch” during one heated exchange and blamed Myers and coach Steve Kerr for Durant’s departure. In the 2016 NBA Finals, Green reached the limit for technical fouls and was suspended for Game 5, helping Cleveland win the title.

“He will tell you he has been over that line, but he always comes back,” Myers said. “Nobody is saying they don’t want him around…but [Wednesday] was not a good moment…I don’t think he likes putting himself in these spots. He is in one, but I think he’ll find a way to earn the respect of his teammates and Jordan back.”

Green still has support from his No.1 advocate, Steph Curry, but you gotta wonder how Poole feels. I imagine it’d be easier to get over if the incident was kept in-house instead of going viral. And judging by the video, Green committed a gross escalation of their squabble. 

Some observers consider the blow a “sucker punch,” which is different and more offensive than teammates squaring off. Poole clearly wasn’t interested in fighting as Green got in his face. It looked like he pushed Green to create space and retreat, not signal it was time to throw hands. 

The players’ respective contract situations reportedly could be a factor, although Myers and Curry dismissed that notion. Poole, entering his NBA fourth season, is in line for a contract extension this year. Green, who has spent his entire career with the Warriors, could very well be elsewhere next season. Kerr and others in the organization dismiss suggestions that Poole’s attitude has changed after playing a major role in the championship run.

“[Poole] has been great, and there was nothing that warranted the situation,” Curry told reporters. “I want to make that clear. But I also feel like it’s not something that will derail our season and what we’re trying to build, and that with Draymond as a part of.”

Fights happen among family members, co-workers and teammates. Kerr had an infamous exchange with Michael Jordan during a heated Chicago Bulls practice in 1995. MJ dotted Kerr’s eye, but they moved on and won three titles together. 

A quarter-century later, NBA coverage has evolved into a 365-day news cycle that loves a good scene. Cameras are everywhere, and reporters are relentless. There’s a good chance that someone is soon to be a recently fired former member of the Warriors’ video department.

We were nearly done with the story a day after it arose. Intrasquad friction is closer to routine than abnormal, usually handled internally. This video changes that, a visual bookmark to return to throughout the season. Every interaction between these teammates will be dissected and analyzed.

Are they interacting on the bench and in huddles? Did Poole leave Green hanging on that high-five?  Do we ever see them without a couple of players between them?

Like the old slogan says, NBA action is fantastic.

The games are pretty good, too.

Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at blackdoorventures.com/deron.

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