NBA: Warriors must overcome ‘crisis’ in pursuit of fifth crown
The Golden State Warriors’ hopes of clinching a fifth NBA championship since 2015 could hinge on how successfully the franchise manages the fallout from what head coach Steve Kerr calls the biggest crisis in the club’s history.
For most of the past decade, the Warriors have been a model of consistency on and off the court, a well-coached, well-run organization that has set a standard for the rest of the league.
But Draymond Green’s practice court assault on teammate Jordan Poole means the Warriors will open the defense of their NBA crown on Tuesday with a pall of uncertainty hanging over the locker room.
Green escaped suspension for flattening Poole with a punch that almost knocked out his Warriors teammate and is expected to start Tuesday’s season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yet whether there are lasting repercussions within the Warriors locker room over the incident — and how the team management chose to deal with it — remains an open question.
“This is the biggest crisis that we’ve had since I’ve been coach here,” said Kerr, who admits he is furious that details of the incident managed to emerge into the public domain.
The Warriors coach says he expects Green — one of his most trusted on-court lieutenants during a run that has included six trips to the NBA Finals since 2015 — to rebuild “trust” with teammates and coaches.
“Draymond and I have been together for eight years,” said Kerr.
“We’ve had plenty of run-ins, we’ve won championships together, we’ve lost championships together. We’ve been through an awful lot together.
“He broke our trust with this incident, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt because I think he has earned that and I think our team feels the same way.
“So he knows he needs to regain that.”
‘Camaraderie the key’
Green, who in April argued vociferously that Poole should have won the award for NBA’s Most Improved Player, says rebuilding locker room camaraderie is more important than restoring trust.
“When everyone says build trust as a team I don’t quite understand that. What’s trust? Is it trust that you’re going to make the right play? What is that?” Green said.
“What we do have to do is make sure we’re together. Make sure we’re doing the necessary things to win a championship, make sure we’ve got each other’s back.
“Everyone has an idea of what trust means, but what does that truly mean? I don’t quite know. Making sure team camaraderie is right is the key.
“Because when you’re playing against a team and the camaraderie isn’t right, you can tell right away. I know I can.”
Green, 32, meanwhile indicated that he plans to turn the aftermath of the Poole clash into a motivational positive.
“I’m going to prove a lot of people wrong this year,” Green said. “I’ve been proving people wrong my whole life, so there’s some added motivation.
“Not quite proving people wrong because the same people that are talking now are the same people who’ve been talking forever, and they’ve been wrong the entire time…but there are definitely some motivations have been sparked by some people. And I’m going to use that.”