Kevin Durant-Draymond Green Bombshells Reveal Bigger NBA Truths

A. Sherrod BlakelyContributor IAugust 20, 2021

Kevin Durant R and Draymond Green of the United States pose with gold medals after the awarding ceremony for the men's basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Saitama, Japan, Aug. 7, 2021. (Photo by Meng Yongmin/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were teammates in Golden State, it wasn't hard to understand why they were so awesome together. 

Green was the do-it-all pest defensively with the ability to effectively guard all five positions. His defense, will to win and overall ability to be a pain in the you-know-what to most opponents is what endears him to many and makes him an effective player.

However, the three-time All-Star and former NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2017) hasn't been much of a scorer, averaging just 8.8 points per game.

Durant, on many levels, is at the opposite end of the basketball-playing spectrum. The 32-year-old Durant is a career 27.0 point-per-game scorer, the fifth-highest scoring average all-time.

He also has 23,883 career points. To put that in perspective, only 25 players in NBA history have scored more points than Durant.  

So it's easy to assume that, because their pathways toward success have been so divergent, that they, too, would have their share of differences, even in the midst of having a common goal of winning a championship. 

That's why it was so easy to completely buy into their so-called beef back in 2018, when during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, an on-the-floor tiff between them spilled into the locker room. It became a full-blown argument that ended with the Warriors suspending Green for the following game.

Both players recently addressed the situation, and they were both bothered by the roles head coach Steve Kerr and team president of basketball operations/general manager Bob Myers played.

Durant would leave Golden State after that season to play for the Brooklyn Nets. 

In the first episode of CHIPS, hosted by Green, Durant says the confrontation between him and Green wasn't what led to him bolting the Bay. 

"It wasn't the argument," Durant said. "It was the way that everybody ... Steve Kerr acted like it didn't happen. Bob Myers tried to just discipline you and think that that would put the mask over everything. I really felt like those—it was such a big situation for us as a group, the first time we went through something like that. We had to get that s--t all out."

Said Green, "In my opinion, they f--ked this up."

Durant agreed. "I think so, too."

Hearing Green and Durant shed light on what was clearly a turning point for the Warriors organization—they haven't been to the playoffs in any season since, and no, the play-in game does not count—is both entertaining and a cautionary tale for fans and media alike. 

There is a level of interpersonal dynamics at play that—when it comes to professional athletes—will rarely see the light of day. But while their styles of play and demeanors may differ, you will be hard-pressed to find two more competitive players in the NBA.

That is why Durant joining forces with the Warriors in 2016 and winning two NBA titles in a three-year span (and being named Finals MVP in both years) made so much sense for what he was looking for and what Golden State had to offer. 

And of all the relationships that needed to work, there was little doubt or concern about how well Durant and Green would work in tandem…until that eventful night on Nov. 18, 2018. 


What happened between Durant and Green was highly public and vividly memorable, but it was neither the first nor last time competitors from the same team got heated. 

We have seen teammates get into it for as long as the NBA has been around. 

There have been relatively minor dust-ups, like LeBron James and Mario Chalmers getting into it in 2013 as members of the Miami Heat. Another example: Isaiah Thomas and Julius Randle, both with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, having a heated exchange.

Occasionally those words spoken in anger lead to a physical confrontation, like when Markieff Morris pushed Archie Goodwin in 2016 when they were teammates in Phoenix. 

That physical encounter pales in comparison to the altercation between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic at a practice in 2017 when they played for the Chicago Bulls.

The fight left Mirotic with a concussion and multiple facial fractures, which earned Portis an eight-game suspension.

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

While the factors that led to each of those incidents differ, the one thing they all have in common is that the tension we all saw in that moment didn't linger—with the exception being Portis and Mirotic, who were not on speaking teams even after Mirotic returned from his injuries.

Following the incident, Mirotic asked to be traded and got his wish right before the 2018 trade deadline when the Bulls sent him to New Orleans.

"Niko's (Mirotic's) representatives were consistent over the last several months that they wanted him moved," John Paxson, then-Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations, told reporters at the time. "They never backed off of that stance one bit."

And while what happened between Portis and Mirotic was indeed extreme, it's not uncommon for things to get testy in an NBA locker room. 

"I don't think the average fan, or the average reporter for that matter, really knows or understands how much s--t happens in the locker room that, if they knew, would be a big deal when the truth is, it's guys letting off some steam," an Eastern Conference assistant coach said. "Just like you hear these guys say all the time, 'you gotta have a short memory' if you play well or not. Well, the same holds true if you and a teammate or a coach get into it. You gotta let that s--t go and move on."

There are some athletes who can move on from the triggering incident, but they can't undo the collateral damage it caused. 

Green and Durant won a pair of titles together during a three-year run. Had Durant stayed with the Warriors, there's a high probability the Larry O'Brien trophy would have had at least one more year of residency in the Bay Area. 

And while Durant surely had lots of reasons for deciding to take his talents to Brooklyn and join forces with Kyrie Irving and later James Harden, he's pretty clear on the way his blowout with Green was handled by the Warriors, which played a role in his decision to leave. 

Which is why, when it comes to relationships among players and franchises, the one thing you can count on is messiness.

The marriage between players and organizations…messy.

The breakup…messy.

The factors leading to the breakup…messy. 

When it comes to NBA relationships, they're not all that different than most relationships. The simple truth is, there's really nothing simple about them. 

They are complicated. 

They are convoluted. 

And at times, they are downright confusing.

But what sticks out when it comes to NBA relationships is how they keep us on the edge of our seats, waiting to see if we're witnessing a basketball brouhaha or the latest basketball bromance. 

As Green's conversation with Durant revealed, sometimes we get both.