Whether verbal or physical, altercations between teammates come with the territory of sports at any level, from pee-wee to professional. However, there’s a level of respect that needs to be maintained, and the line is different for every team. It’s clear that Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green crossed that line when he got into a physical altercation with teammate Jordan Poole during practice on Wednesday, which the team confirmed on Thursday.
Known for his fiery, passionate disposition, the 32-year-old Green has gotten into several mid-game verbal spats with teammates that have been caught on camera during his tenure with the Warriors, not to mention his reputation at practices. But he crossed the line on Wednesday when things got physical, and he’ll face discipline from the Warriors.
Stephen Curry, head coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers spoke about the incident on Thursday, and here’s a breakdown of the details they shared.
Video of incident leaked
An initial report of the altercation said that Green “forcefully struck” Poole during a heated argument. On Friday morning, video of the incident was leaked by TMZ, showing that Green threw a full-fledged punch, which appeared to strike Poole in the face and knock him to the floor. Green approached Poole from the sideline of the practice court, bumping him with his chest, and Poole responded by shoving Green, just prior to Green throwing the punch.
The Warriors are exploring “every legal course of action” to figure out how the video was leaked, according to ESPN.
Poole did not suffer major injury
Poole reportedly participated in shooting drills after the incident on Wednesday, and he practiced fully on Thursday. It appears he was not seriously injured by the punch, and will likely not miss any time.
Green has apologized
Myers said that Green apologized to the team on Thursday for his behavior.
“It’s the NBA. It’s professional sports. These things happen. Nobody likes it. We don’t condone it, but it happened,” Myers said. “Draymond apologized to the team this morning. Jordan was there in the room. I was there in the room. The team, the coaches, the players, and we heard that.”
Discipline will be handled internally
Both Myers and Kerr said that any disciplinary action toward Green will be handled internally, and Kerr said that Green was not at practice on Thursday and will not attend practice on Friday. Kerr expects Green to be back on practice at Saturday.
“As far as any suspension, punishment, fine, we’re going to handle that internally,” Myers said. “That’s going to be an internal process.”
“As a coach, anytime there’s something that happens, we try to handle things internally,” Kerr said. “[Green] didn’t practice today, won’t be here tomorrow. I expect him to return on Saturday and get back at it.”
Warriors refute report about Poole’s attitude
After news of the altercation between Green and Poole broke on Wednesday, a tweet from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports suggested that the incident could have stemmed from a change in Poole’s attitude as he negotiates a potential extension with the Warriors. Kerr, Myers and Curry categorically denied the report, saying that Poole has been great during camp so far.
“The specific tweet put out yesterday about insinuating that JP’s attitude or something has changed since he’s been in this training camp or even whatever time they’re talking about. It’s absolute B.S.,” Curry said. “Andre [Iguodala] addressed it yesterday with his tweet, and we can kind of leave it at that. JP’s been great.”
“Jordan has been fantastic throughout camp,” Kerr said. “There was a report that I was made aware of last night that someone put out there that Jordan had an attitude at camp — nothing could be further from the truth. He’s been fantastic. So, disappointing to see misinformation out there, but I wanted to make sure I set the record straight on that.”
“Some of it, I would say from my vantage point, I don’t feel — and more importantly you should ask the players that you talk to — I don’t think this was related to who’s getting paid and who isn’t,” Myers said. “I don’t sense that. Make your own conclusions. It’s probably more important what players think on that than what I think, but I don’t see it.”
Myers expressed disappointment to Green
Following the incident, Myers said that he spoke with Green and expressed his disappointment, but he was optimistic that Green and the team will be able to get past it.
“Draymond is one of my favorite players,” Myers said. “I told him that, but I just said, ‘You’re better than this. Don’t do this. Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t put yourself in this position.’ Still love the person. Don’t love what he did, but still love the guy.
“He’s complicated, but he’s a good person. He is a good person. He is. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen a lot of things he’s done. Yesterday wasn’t one of them. In this job that I’m in, these are men. He knows what he needs to do. He’s got to make amends, and he started with that this morning. I’m confident he’ll do that.”
Warriors looking to move forward
Curry and Myers both said they feel the team will be able to move past the incident with relative ease. They’ve dealt with other situations in the past, most notably the on-court blow-up between Green and Kevin Durant in 2018 that resulted in Green’s suspension, and Myers feels that makes them more equipped to deal with the current situation.
“It’s one of the best vibes that we’ve had in my 12 years here, as far as camp and health and mental health and camaraderie,” Myers said. “But, it’s unfortunate, and I’m not gonna deny it. It will take some time to move through it, but we’ll move through it and move forward. And I’m confident that we will. We’ve got a good team, we’ve got good leadership. We’ve got some guys that have been here a long time. And this isn’t our first thing that’s happened, our first sense of adversity. We’ve been through some of this before. Don’t like going through it, but it’s part of the NBA and it’s part of sports and it’s kind of what it is.”
“The vibe today at practice was great,” Curry said on Thursday. “Trying to take advantage of this week and make it about basketball, our preparation for the season. It’s obviously an unfortunate situation that — you know, getting asked about it — a situation that could have been avoided, but there’s a lot of trust in the fabric of our team, who we are, who we know those two guys to be, and how we’ll get through it and try to continue to make it about playing great basketball. The personal dynamics and stuff will work themselves out, and that’s part, again, of the culture that we’ve built here. I like how we responded today. Had a great practice, good energy. Try to keep that as the focus as we move forward.”
Give the Warriors credit for addressing the issue head on. They could have easily refused to discuss the situation, but they provided some clarity and insight into the team’s headspace following the incident. For now it seems everyone is ready to move on, but we will have to monitor the situation as the Warriors prepare to begin their title defense, starting with NBA opening night on Oct. 18 against the Los Angeles Lakers.