Monday, October 24, 2022

My Colleagues Respond To The Case Of Draymond Green


Two of my friends responded to my take on The Draymond Situation with different views, both well expressed. Neither agrees with me, in the main, and both make persuasive arguments.



You are an admirable human being, in the extreme, an impediment to understanding this matter, as I see it.   There is a perhaps apocryphal story about Freud's giving a lecture and being repeatedly interrupted by a young colleague, who argued at every turn.  Freud finally threw him out, but a colleague, who was the young man's analyst, complained, explaining the man's behavior in terms of Oedipal dynamics bring ascendant in the course of the young's man's analysis and thus explaining the man's behavior in terms of paternal transference to the master.  

Freud replied: "Nonsense.  The man was rude." 



Thank you, Bob, for putting this in far more succinct terms than I could have; my reaction to Budd’s thoughtful, kindly, broad and forgiving expiation is pretty much exactly the same as yours.

Budd, I think we should start with your first point, “You’ve always thought he was a thug; I disagreed with that, and still do.”  Your reason is that he’s not a “classic thug”, but rather “very, very talented and intelligent”.  I’ve never thought a thug had to be a dolt, nor lacking in talent; he needs only to either lack a moral compass, or impulse control, or both. A guy is a thug if he volitionally harms, intimidates, abuses or endangers others, when he knows better, but either doesn’t care, rationalizes his brutish behavior, or is just so egoistic that he doesn’t consider anything beyond his own emotional needs at any given moment.  To me, this “defense” of Draymond explains why you like him, but doesn’t make him anything less of a thug.

Of course, if what I’ve just said is right, it’s even more true that his “world-class defense” and his “inventive and astute offense” and his “exceptional leadership and emotional acuteness” are even less relevant or exculpatory. You like him because it’s enjoyable to watch him play (at least when he’s not tripping someone, pushing them over when they’re in a vulnerable position, or kicking them in the balls). I like watching him play, too.  But he’s a thug.

Yes, he’s an incorrigible whiner on calls. That, I agree, is indeed “regrettable”, because it diminishes him as a basketball player. Few know this other than very elderly, diehard Bullets/Wizards fans, but the great Wes Unseld – a man of absolutely sterling character otherwise – bitched about every call against him for his entire career, and that was similarly “regrettable”. But I don’t think his rude, unpleasant and inappropriate mistreatment of referees is what makes him a thug. It’s the reckless endangerment of others, the constant and humiliating dirty play, the practiced and phony immediate outreach to his victims to help them back up (as though it was all a mistake). This guy not only should know better, he does know better. But he either doesn’t care or thinks it’s okay, but it’s neither.

You are making a good point about the Warriors standing for something better than thuggishness. That, too, has made many of us who love the game enjoy/root for the Warriors. Steve Kerr!  Steph Curry! Klay Thompson! Jordan Poole!  And so many of the support players, too – they’re good people, and it’s easy to like them. But if the Warriors stand for anything higher or more noble, then they need to get rid of Draymond Green.  He’ll always be a thug, but if they go excusing and forgiving him (as you have), then they stand for nothing at all except winning – just like everybody else.  (I’m sure Detroit fans loved the Isiah Thomas-Bill Laimbeer-Dennis Rodman-Rick Mahorn teams. Bad people, all, but they’re fans loved them because they won, which ought not to be the test, right?) 

I get that there’s another side to this guy, the one you like (and perhaps even admire). But in the end, he’s a professional, a grown man, not a hot-headed kid who needs to “mature”. He is now fairly judged by his behavior, as are we all, and he’s had a long, ugly career of dirty play that too many have been willing to ignore for way too long. The punch on Poole means he shouldn’t be in the league anymore in my view, and if that’s too harsh, then, at least, he shouldn’t be on the Warriors anymore.

I remember making the decision at the Humane Society of the United States that we would give Michael Vick a second chance, hoping that some good would come from his heinous story by working with him to speak with inner-city kids about the evils of dog-fighting. Most of our colleagues in the animal welfare and advocacy movement never forgave us for offering Vick that second chance, because his crimes were just too awful to excuse. I don’t think Draymond falls in that category. Even the sucker-punch on Poole wasn’t in the same moral realm as electrocuting and torturing innocent animals. But Draymond’s long history of dirty play has to count, too,  and I just don’t see how you can forgive him at this point.

The guy’s a thug.


Sports are kind of amazing. They are as full of complications and interpretations as all of life, except with a score. Use the law to adjudicate situations? (both Bob and Rick are attorneys)? Think of teams as family, and use individual and family therapy models? Think about teams as families, or as formal associations? Put winning first, or individual authenticity?

It's all there, if you think about it. We'll never know for sure, but as time goes on, our judgements will sharpen. Understand sports, understand life.

Budd Shenkin

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