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Draymond Green’s a winner and that outweighs all the distractions he creates



Let me preface this defense of Draymond Green by saying I don’t cover the team in-person on a daily basis, don’t travel with the team nor do I have any inside knowledge on how the team and management *truly* feel about Draymond Green.

Now that I’ve established myself as an outsider . . . .

The latest Draymond Green headline — accusing Knicks owner James Dolan of operating with a “slave owner mentality” — has divided Warriors fans as to the relative worth of Draymond’s talent vs. Draymond’s proclivity for off-court distractions.

Some, according to texts, tweets and calls, feel that Draymond is talking a little too much for their liking. They see a player who has yet to live down his NBA Finals suspension, an incurred penalty that arguably cost the Warriors a championship. Add in his dust-up in East Lansing this summer, his ridiculous social media post while speeding on Hwy 24 and his, ahem, “very personal” SnapChat embarrassment. The detractors would argue evidence mounts that Draymond is irresponsible.

Throw in last year’s halftime meltdown at OKC, his on-court arguments with Kevin Durant this year (in the Memphis loss and at Sacramento) and now his very serious charge against Dolan, a charge that opens up all kinds of wounds in American history, and Dray’s naysayers are wondering if one day the Warriors would be better off without him.

And if you’re a Day Day Defender — as I count myself — you have to acknowledge that the compilation of incidents is a ledger of negativity to be recognized and evaluated. By comparison, start counting the distractions compiled by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in that same time period and get back to me.

I’ll wait.

So why am I wearing a tee shirt that reads “I’m With Dray/All The Way?” (Actually, I’m not. That’s just an image I’d like you to conjure.)

Several reasons:

— Draymond Green’s on-court intensity is perhaps the most important ingredient on the team. Steph’s scoring, Kevin Durant’s game and Klay’s catch-and-release program aren’t enough to carry the Warriors to another title. Draymond Green is the only junkyard dog on the team, and the primary reason the team is the best defensive team in the NBA. In life, it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows, as I hear every morning at 5 A.M. on The Sports Leader. Junkyard dogs who growl are needed to create awareness and intensity, critical cogs to winning. That’s Draymond. No junkyard dog, no winning.

— Judge a man by the company he keeps. Here are the people who have vouched for Draymond Green: Jerry West, who called him a top 10 player in the NBA. Steve Kerr, who called him the “heartbeat” of the team. Joe Lacob and Bob Myers, who rewarded Green with a 5-year, $82 million contract that runs through 2020. Durant, with whom Green has exchanged spirited words, is his airplane seat mate and such a friend that Draymond has called it “far beyond basketball”.

— Comparisons have been made to Dennis Rodman, a walking distraction during the era of Michael Jordan’s uber focused mission on winning. He’ll be like Rodman, detractors say! Quick fact check: Dennis Rodman won three consecutive NBA championships with Jordan’s Bulls, and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Translation: Guys can be different and challenging, and still be part of winning.

— And Green’s fixation on comparing sports to slavery? We had Howard Bryant on the show today, and the always-thoughtful Bryant said Draymond needed to be careful using a charged topic like slavery in conversation. On at least three occasions this year — a podcast discussing the NCAA, a postgame chat in OKC about a heckler, and now Dolan — Green has invoked slavery. While it’s my firm belief no white American could ever begin to relate to the black American experience, even from the day a black American is born, perhaps Green would be wise to listen to our pal Howard Bryant on this one. Use powerful words carefully, and they can even gain more power.

And as Bryant told us, Green’s fiery tactics serve to allow Curry and Klay and Durant to focus more on making baskets, and less on doing media. Draymond seems to love doing it; radio shows, podcasts, you name it. He likes mixing it up, talking, sharing ideas. Sometimes he’s on target, sometimes he’s off.

Either way, he’s damn compelling, and he’s a winner. The Warriors need him.