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Back at practice Tuesday for the first time since his 12-game suspension, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said he is confident he can alter his ways and help the team turn its season around.
Green, 33, was suspended indefinitely after taking a swing at Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic’s head last month. He had been suspended for five games in November for putting Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert in a headlock.
“When I look back at these situations, it’s like, ‘Can I remove the antics?’ I am very confident I can remove the antics,” Green said.
“And I am very confident if I do, no one is worried about how I play the game of basketball (or) how I carry myself in the game of basketball. It’s the antics. That’s the focus. It’s not changing who I am completely. You don’t change the spots on a leopard.
“I’m not going to set an unrealistic set of expectations. … Can I accept that my antics have been over the top? Of course. Can I remove them? Of course.”
Green will participate in all practices and scrimmages this week, though no date has been set for his return to game action.
“They’re putting the plan together to ramp up. If it were up to me, I would love to come back and play right now,” Green said.
Teammate Brandin Podziemski started a round of applause as Warriors coach Steve Kerr welcomed Green back to practice, but the veteran forward felt he didn’t deserve it.
“I’ve cost my team enough. I’ve cost this organization enough,” Green said. “It’s not a time for me to just come back and be like, ‘Alright, I’m going to take my time and get back when I can.’ No, like, you caused this yourself. You don’t get the grace.”
Without Green, Kerr and the Warriors have dropped to 12th in the Western Conference at 17-19. While the coach is glad to have Green back, it doesn’t mean things will go back to normal right away.
“I’m just open-minded,” Kerr said. “… He’s still obviously a huge part of this thing and a huge part of our leadership. He is going to reassume that mantle. But he needs the awareness that comes with what he’s just gone through and what he has put the team through, as well.”
Green, who in his 12th season has averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in 15 games, said his self-reflection was a result of having time to devote to it, not because the league mandated it.
“Part of the indefinite return was about being in a better space, to allow my mind to process what it looks like to get in a better space,” he said.
Remorseful Green eager to return
“I didn’t touch a basketball for first 10 days and then I started working again,” Green told reporters after practice on Tuesday.
“It felt good to get back in the gym after I sat with some of my thoughts. It was refreshing to go get a workout. But it didn’t feel like a routine. It didn’t feel like I was jumping back into the revolving door and started back spinning.”
The four-time NBA champion added the he did not realize just how stressful his job was until it was taken away but is now hungry to help a Golden State club desperate for a spark.
“It’s urgent from a professional standpoint because I wasn’t hurt,” he said.
“At least my body wasn’t hurt. My mind was hurt, my feelings was hurt, but it wasn’t like some injury kept me off the floor.
“So it’s very urgent because I’ve cost my team enough. I’ve cost this organization enough.”
The Warriors have struggled without the player often called their “heartbeat,” whose precision passing and rugged defense played a key role in building the team’s dynasty in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With Green sidelined, the team has labored to find the right rotations and after a humiliating 133-118 loss to the Toronto Raptors on their home floor on Sunday, the team is now 17-19 and in 12th place in the 15-team Western Conference.
For his part, Green, one of the league’s most assertive players, was humble upon his return from suspension.
“Coach said welcome back in film yesterday and [Podziemski] started clapping and everybody started clapping,” he said with a smile.
“Well I’m not sure I deserved a round of applause, but I’ll take it.”
Commissioner discouraged retirement
Commissioner Adam Silver discouraged Green from calling his career quits amid his most recent NBA suspension, the longtime Warriors forward said on his podcast.
ESPN, which reviewed “The Draymond Green Show” in advance of its posting on Monday, reported that Green had the discussion with Silver after his indefinite suspension.
“I told him, ‘Adam this is too much for me… This is too much,” Green said, per the report. “It’s all becoming too much for me and I’m going to retire.’ And Adam said, ‘You’re making a very rash decision and I won’t let you do that.’
“We had a long, great conversation – very helpful to me. Very thankful to play in a league with a commissioner like Adam who’s more about helping you than hurting you; helping you than punishing you. He’s more about the players.”
In a statement, the league said Green “completed steps that demonstrated his commitment to conforming his conduct to standards expected of NBA players. He has engaged in meetings with a counselor and has met jointly on multiple occasions with representatives of the NBA, the Warriors, and the National Basketball Players Association, both of which will continue throughout the season.”
Green will go through conditioning with the team before restarting his season.
The 33-year-old has won four NBA titles with the Warriors. He’s also a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA selection. – Rappler.com