Draymond Green is, without a doubt, one of the toughest players in the entire NBA. Some fans—especially fans who dislike the Warriors—might dispute that. But if they were in charge of putting together an NBA team, we bet most of those same fans would want Green on their team. The guy doesn’t back down from anyone, and he routinely welcomes the challenge of guarding guys who are significantly bigger than him.
He’s apparently been battling bigger, older, stronger players for a long time, too. Green appeared on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, and inside the magazine, he talked to Lee Jenkins about his upbringing in Saginaw, Michigan. According to him, he literally had to fight for a spot on the court at his local rec center and would often scrap with “grown men” who would bully him simply for trying to call “Next!” Jenkins painted a picture of how it used to go down in Green’s cover story while describing his current mindset when playing against bigger, taller NBA players:
Green is suddenly transported to the Civitan Rec Center in Saginaw, Mich., once again the pudgy kid with the Ben Wallace Afro ignored by the older boys every time he chirped “Next!” He’d sit down in the middle of the court and scream, “Who do you think you are? I’m not leaving this floor for you!” Regulars alternated between sticking him in trash cans, rolling him in rugs, setting him on the rim, and banishing him to the pool table. He hurled billiard balls at his tormentors. “There were grown men trying to fight me,” Green says, “and I fought them all.” He fought anybody who messed with him and anybody who messed with his more reserved older brother, Torrian. Every other day, it seemed, a manager named Tyrone Davis had to kick him out of Civitan. Draymond would occasionally leave with a busted nose, as well as a game ball, which he would boot over the nearest fence. “Those big boys eventually learned,” says his mother, Mary Babers-Green, “that my baby better get his next.”
We don’t know about you, but the thought of an angry Draymond Green hurling pool balls is pretty terrifying.
Elsewhere in the story, Green’s Golden State coaches talk about his unusually high basketball IQ. Green looks back on all of the teams that passed him over in the 2012 NBA Draft and openly criticizes several of them for doing it. And while Green might come across as a big tough guy, he also shows off his softer side by openly admitting that he cried while watching a Steph Curry documentary on ESPN this season:
One night this season Green was asleep in his hotel room on the road when he woke up at 3 a.m. As usual, ESPN was on, but there were no juicy [sound] bites. Instead, the network was airing a profile of Curry, how he was scrawny and overlooked and his ankles kept buckling. The Curry biography is well known, but Green had missed some of the details. “By the end, I was in tears,” he says. “I texted him: ‘Bro, I’m so proud of you and I respect you so much.’”
You can read Green’s entire SI cover story here.
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