Warriors forward and Michigan State product Draymond Green is a two-time NBA All-Star, an NBA champion, an Olympic gold medalist and a two-time All-Defensive first teamer. Yet, fair or not, something else he will always be remembered for is his costly suspension in the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cavaliers.
In fact, he feels his Game 5 absence cost the Warriors a second title.
“One of the most brutal things I’ve ever had to go through in my life,” Green said on an E:60 special that will air Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN, per the Detroit Free Press. “If I played, we win of course. So I do feel it’s my fault we lost. … Absolutely my fault. But I don’t feel wrong for what I did at all.”
At the time of Green’s suspension, the Warriors held a 3-1 lead in the series. He picked up his fourth flagrant foul point of the playoffs in that Game 4, which triggered an automatic suspension. Cleveland took advantage of his absence in Game 5 to win on the road, then won the next two games to win the series in seven games.
Green and the Warriors currently lead the Cavs 1-0 in 2017 NBA Finals, the third consecutive Finals meeting between the teams. In Game 1, the do-it-all forward accumulated 9 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. He also picked up 4 fouls, but no fragrant or technical fouls.
Green, however, makes no promises to be careful about his behavior if LeBron James or another Cavs player were to mix it up with him again.
“He stepped over me. And I had a natural reaction,” Green said of the play with James last year that earned the flagrant foul. “I mean, you don’t step over a grown man. It’s disrespectful. And if it happened again, I would do the same thing — get off me.”
Green has had a chip on his shoulder since he was selected in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. As a senior at Michigan State, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and is one of three Spartans to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds with the program.
Despite the accolades, he didn’t hear his name called until the No. 35 pick.
“I sat there on draft night, and I sat there. I thought that I would go at 19, 20. … I was pissed,” Green said. “Even once I got drafted, I cried. But I didn’t think many other guys should’ve been drafted before me. So you think that sticks with me?”
Luckily for Green, he dropped down to the perfect team and has made the most of his situation.