Monday, October 24, 2022

The Case Of Draymond Green

This is what I wrote to my friend Rick, on the Case of Draymond Green.

Rick, you deserve a response in our now increasingly long-standing controversy over Draymond.

It's taken me some time to come to terms with it, and I still really haven't.  You've always thought he was a thug; I disagreed with that, and still do.  Unlike classic thugs, he is very, very talented and intelligent.  His defense is world-class; his offense is inventive and astute.  His leadership and emotional acuteness are both exceptional.  Without him, the Warriors struggle.

I have usually forgiven him his trespasses.  I think his aggressiveness in making his case with referees is regrettable, but he's often right on the facts, maybe usually so.  But his almost uncontrollable insistence that they be more accurate has been immature.  Their job is very hard, and as long as they are not biased, one has to accept that they are doing the best they can.  One has to learn to forgive parents, too, because regrettably, they are just human.  One also has to learn simply to restrain oneself, even if the understanding part may be elusive.  Just dial it back; you have to learn that.

The Warriors have fancied themselves, most times justifiably, I think, as advanced in their understanding of the human state.  They forgive, they support, they understand, they make allowances, they include the whole team from the dude who rebounds the balls for the shooters in practice to the owner; everyone gets heard.  They don't use punishment much as a primitive tool, they are not authoritarian.

But Draymond, it has to be recognized, has an anger problem.  When do you make him address it, even if it puts the coherence of the team in danger?  They have said they have been reluctant to make him change, in deference to the greater good of the team, and his value as a leader, fearing that to dial back the excesses would make him dial back the good as well.  The Warriors, at this point I think it can be said, have overdone their restraint.  They let him go too far.

When do we understand, and when do we condemn?  When are we outraged? 

I think everyone at this point is walking on eggshells.  Draymond has apologized, but he hasn't said he has a problem and has to change.  The Warriors have fined and admonished, and it seems they have not played him as much as he would have probably demanded if not for this incident.  And they took advantage of the situation to extend Poole and Wiggins and not him -- they dipped into the pot but he came up empty.  The Warriors had probably wanted to do this anyway, but in his wounded state, Draymond now can't really protest.  Forget keeping him out of games on suspension, he's taking his licks.  They have indicated that they are willing to use their position of strength to abase him a little, and to threaten to go without him, and they are forcing him to confront the fact that maybe he needs the Warriors more than they need him.

Draymond has been far too full of himself.  Draymond hasn't been able to confront his demons.  Now he will be forced to.  It's late for him to do this, but now he most likely will have to.  One wonders what TNT will do; they are no doubt reassessing.  This major transgression is sinking in.  He has been tattooed in a way not to his liking, and it's probably indelible. 

I think the Warriors are smart enough to see that they can't simply go on as though nothing has happened.  The season might be imperiled.  It might mark a premature end to the run.  They probably think they have been too permissive and understanding, and they have probably done this in service to their own success.  They can't think that the only problem is the son, and that the parents are blameless.  Draymond's punishment will be the quiet work they put in with the younger members of the team, the time and effort they give them, the hopes they start to pin on them, the rope they give Draymond to work his way back into being a different part of the team, rather than it's driver who holds the reins.

Myself, I'm disappointed in him.  I see more clearly the part of him that is a bully, that is brutish, that is physically intimidating.  There is a part of sports that does that -- I never liked it much myself, but then I'm a lot smaller.  It's a temptation for a big guy, and the big guys joust among themselves.  Sometimes the smaller guys fight back by being skilled and maneuverable, and sometimes they are pests.  But whatever Poole did or said, this cannot be the answer.

There is always the fight between the top guys and the younger challengers, those who demand respect at the top of the hill and those who won't give it, and challenge, often with their mouths.  You see it all over.  We're coming for you, say the challengers.  You haven't won anything yet, say the established.  That's eternal. 

And, finally, I'm tempted to make an even wider extrapolation.  We always see, in history and in current events, the war between brute force and an agreement to abide by fair laws.  Maybe it's too much of a stretch, but I'm always tempted to think that personal relationships and world relationships are fractals, that the same rules apply.  And in that wider expanse, I never back might over right.  So, with Draymond, just like everyone else, I have to reassess. 

I just hate to see this guy I have so admired get caught in his excess.  We'll just have to see which side wins.  I hope for the best, but it's up in the air as of now.  We'll just have to see.  He was always on the edge, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Angel and devil, one on each shoulder.

Anyway, that's how I'm thinking about it. 

Meanwhile, what was it that Poole said or did? 



Budd Shenkin

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