With three NBA titles already under his belt, Draymond Green had a little something extra to prove with the fourth.
The Golden State Warriors big man opened up about his motivation for the latest title, which the team wrapped up with a Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday. This was the first NBA championship for the franchise since 2019, with a two-year valley for the Warriors that included one season at the bottom of the league, a pair of major injuries for Klay Thompson, and no playoff berths.
This year’s win brought an end to speculation that the Warriors dynasty ended with the departure of Kevin Durant after that 2019 season, which Green now said was a big mistake.
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Winning Without Durant
After the team’s Game 6 win, Warriors star Steph Curry admitted he was motivated to win another title after Durant left Golden State to form a new super-team with the Brooklyn Nets. Though Curry had won already won a title before Durant first joined the Warriors, he wanted to prove that they could win another after he left.
“For sure. You bookend it,” Curry told Yahoo Sports.
Green agreed that he also had some extra motivation to win without Durant, adding that there was a bit of hurt around the Warriors when he decided to leave.
“Of course,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “There’s always things you want to prove. Ultimately, when Kevin came here, the main person who has to sign off on that is Steph. So to open your door, to open your arms and accept someone with open arms, and it goes great and it’s short-lived, it’s a slap in the face.”
Green walked back the “slap in the face” statement a bit, but said Durant made the wrong decision in leaving the Warriors.
“Not necessarily a slap in the face, when someone chooses to do something else. But a slap in the face like, ‘I opened my home to you. I brought you into this. I made you a part of this. I wanted you to be a part of this until we couldn’t do it no more. Then when you wanna do something else.’ No hard feelings, no ill will, want you to do great no matter what. It’s a brotherhood.
“But … you’re a competitor and the competitor in you is going to want to prove you wrong, want to show you that you made a mistake.”
Durant Speaks Out
After the Warriors wrapped up their title, many fans took to Twitter to debate Durant’s legacy after his decision to leave. Durant responded to some of the comments, saying he’s not bothered by the criticism or with his own decisions.
Durant has not found the success he likely envisioned after leaving the Warriors. He missed the 2019 season while recovering from a torn Achilles, and the Nets failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs in either of his next two seasons.
Durant has pushed back against past criticism of his decision to leave Golden State. When ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith suggested in February that the decision to leave the Warriors would tarnish his legacy, Durant took to Twitter to offer a one-word response: Egregious.