After Draymond Green’s cowardly attack, we can’t look at him, or Golden State Warriors, the same

Detroit Free Press

Thank you, Golden State Warriors.

You gave the world a gift Tuesday night. You gave us the most perfect example of adding insult to injury when coach Steve Kerr announced Draymond Green would not be suspended after he punched teammate Jordan Poole so hard in practice last week that Poole’s legs buckled and dropped towards the ground.

Thank you for unmasking your entire organization for the sniveling, hypocritical cowards you all are and giving us yet another example of the toxicity that can run rampant in sports, where physical assaults are excused and whitewashed by silver-tongued coaches, as well as players who care more about their bank accounts than actually being accountable.

And a special thanks to Green, the former Michigan State basketball star who spent 40 minutes in a news conference Saturday telling us exactly who he is: A man who supposedly loves the person he viciously assaulted because he “was in a very, very, very bad space mentally dealing with some things in my personal life.”

Green’s actions, on full display in a video obtained by TMZ, were disgusting and abhorrent. I would add intolerable, but the Warriors are more than willing to put up with his actions and will only levy an unspecified fine because, you know, heaven forbid Green should suffer the embarrassment of the public knowing how much he has to pay.

Never mind the Warriors suspended Green for one game in November 2018 after his mid-game blowup with then-teammate Kevin Durant. Even after Kerr admitted Green’s assault “is the biggest crisis” the team has had since he has been the coach, in the next breath he was happy to pardon Green because, well, basically the Warriors have won a lot and the fans should trust the organization has everything under control with the big decisions.

“You know, every situation is totally different,” Kerr said. “And we don’t look at everything in a vacuum and say, ‘All right, well now we did that here, we got to do that there.’

“We would hope that we’ve developed enough equity, you know, with the experience we have with our fan base, with the people watching over the last decade, that people can trust us and that we’ve really put a lot of thought into this decision.”

Well, Kerr is right about one thing. This situation is totally different because this is way, way worse than Green using an unsavory epithet while he and Durant were jawing at each other during an early season game.

I’ll give Green credit for at least understanding the magnitude of his actions and the embarrassment it caused Poole and his family.

“His mother, his father saw that video,” Green said. “And quite frankly, if my mother saw that video I know how my mother would feel. I know what her reaction would be and I know what her next step would be.”

So do I. She would be going after the person who did that to her son. Replace Poole with an image of your son or your brother or close friend and think about what your reaction would be if you saw someone doing that to him — followed by … a fine.

The video is difficult to stomach. Green said he watched it at least 15 times and was shocked by seeing his own act, though he quickly blamed the manipulative editing of the video to make it look worse.

“I’m like, yo, this looks awful,” he said. “Like this looks even worse than I thought it was. Pathetic. Then I had to take a step back to realize that this video was actually released this way to look that way, you know?”

Um, no. There’s no audio, but the video is exactly what you think it is. There’s slow motion and a zoom and repeated loops of the incident. I guess Green would rather have you believe his interpretation of the video, instead of those lying eyes of yours.

I don’t know how Green made it to 15 views. I couldn’t make it to 10. The punch is not only dehumanizing but also one of the worst things I’ve seen in sports because it’s the ultimate betrayal. A team leader, a supposed mentor and a veteran teammate aggressively approaches a younger, smaller teammate. Green — who walks toward Poole, gets in his face and bumps him with his chest; Poole reacts with a two-hand shove — is clearly looking for trouble and the smallest excuse to engage in violence with a vicious and cowardly surprise attack.

Boy, if that’s love then I’m terrified to imagine what Green might do to someone he dislikes.

Someone who knows Green well, as well as Poole, is Jalen Rose. The former Michigan and NBA star grew up in Detroit and has a close connection with Green, who grew up in Saginaw, and Poole, a former Wolverine. Before the video leaked, it was understood Green’s punch didn’t connect. Rose initially said last week on his ESPN show, “Jalen and Jacoby,” he didn’t think it was a big deal.

“What normally makes something a big deal is if that punch lands,” Rose said. “That’s what changes the dynamics of relationships. … I don’t care if it’s family, I don’t care if it’s friends, I don’t care if it’s teammates, I don’t care if it’s coworkers. When you punch me, our relationship is going to be different going forward. So I’m glad it says ‘throws punch,’ not ‘lands punch.’ Vastly different.”

After Rose watched the video, he said he was heartbroken.

“It’s going to leave a stain on their relationship,” he said, “that it will never be the same.”

Rose is right, and in many ways that extends beyond the relationship between Green and Poole. Initially, I’m sure Warriors fans will welcome back Green when he returns for Friday’s preseason finale. They’ll continue that embrace during Tuesday’s season opener and ring ceremony, when everyone is going to pretend everything is OK.

But the rest of us are never going to look at the Warriors the same way again because of how they’ve handled this. Green will forever be looked at differently, too, because this ugly incident now stands at the forefront of a legacy that should have shined with hard-nosed basketball brilliance that guided a dynasty to multiple championships.

The only thing that shines now is the light on the Warriors’ cowardly culture that has excused and tacitly condoned one of the most vicious and shameful acts we’ve seen in the NBA.

Contact Carlos Monarrez: cmonarrez@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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