The Giant Killer: Draymond Green dares you to define him

The Giant Killer: Draymond Green dares you to define him

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Even after 73 wins and 82 million dollars, after the championship and the All-Star Game, after Steph Curry called him the voice and Steve Kerr called him the heart and nobody dared call him a tweener again, Draymond Green still sometimes sprints down the court on defense and hears a giant holler to the sideline: “Coach, post up!” The giant points down at Green, a head shorter, and raises a mitt on the left block. And just like that, everything Green has done throughout the day to quiet his soul—watching the WNBA on TV in his home atop the Berkeley Hills, playing dominos with his friends, eschewing coffee for water and hype music for J. Cole and Boyz II Men—flies out the window of Oracle Arena. The giant might as well have doused Green’s gold jersey in jet fuel and struck a match. “Are you f—— kidding me!” Green bellows, re-creating not one specific scene but hundreds of them. “You have to be joking right now! You cannot really be talking about me! You cannot! You think you’re stronger than me? You’re not. You think you’re going to bully me? You’re not. You think you’re going to score on me? You’re not.”

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.” wholesale jerseys

After Draymond cooled off he retreated across the street to his house, where Mary braided women’s hair, one of her three jobs. “He was like my assistant,” says Mary, who raised Draymond with his stepfather and her ex-husband, Raymond Green. “He always wanted to walk the ladies to their cars. He’d push his brother back and tell him, ‘Let me do it!’” Day Day, as friends and family called him, yearned to be a man. When he fought his way into the pickup games at Civitan, gang members sat in the bleachers and bet hundreds on him, awed by his toughness.
Green is 26 now—a 6′ 7″, 230-pound basketball revolutionary, arguably the best defender in the NBA and the best playmaker of his size—but everywhere he looks he still sees giants trying to toss him in trash cans. “This guy really thinks he has a mismatch!” Green tells himself, isolated on the block against the springy 7-footer. “He really thinks he’s going to destroy me!” Often he spews his stream-of-consciousness out loud. “Sometimes I say it to get myself going,” Green says. “I don’t do it to bother anybody. But if it bothers them, that’s cool, too. I don’t really care.”

Unless you’re trying to back him down, he comes across as far more endearing than angry, the Warrior you’d most want to drink the proverbial beer with. His bravado is part of his brilliance, like the boxers he idolizes, from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson. They could talk themselves into anything. Such was the power of their voices. When the post-up ends the way it so often does, the giant clumsily fumbling a drive or clanking a hook, Green flexes and stares. “I see his head drop,” Green says, “and I hear him talk to himself, ‘Come on, let’s go, what are you doing? This guy is so small! ” Green beams as he turns and stomps downcourt. Look who’s in the trash can now. Look who got next. “I feel in that moment like I took his spirit,” Green says. “And that’s an amazing feeling for me.”

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