The video changed everything.
A report from The Athletic Wednesday that Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Jordan Poole had a “physical altercation” during practice drew attention. Fights between teammates are nothing new in the sport. Plus, considering how disruptive and antagonistic Green has been during his NBA career with his opponents, it wasn’t hard to imagine that he would cause some irritation among his colleagues.
However, the report by Shams Charania and Anthony Slater made it clear that this was not typical practice with blazing tantrums. Warriors management was considering disciplinary action against Green for what happened, saying it was a serious matter.
The discord between the Warriors was potentially juicy news. Golden State is coming off a championship season, its fourth NBA title in the past eight years. And the team is betting favorite come out of the Western Conference again with a chance to repeat as champions.
However, if there is any divisiveness within the roster that could possibly derail another championship run for the Warriors, it will be a story to watch throughout the season. Is there a schism between the veterans who established Golden State’s championship dynasty and the young players who could continue that success? Is Green going to be problematic until management signs him to a new contract?
With only second-hand reports and accounts of the altercation between Green and Poole, any rumble attempting to explain what happened – or what might happen next – could be attributed to innuendo and speculation. . A lack of substantial information could even fuel conspiracy theories for those who thought the Warriors put this out there to avoid giving Green a new contract.
But then TMZ acquired video footage of the practice fight and made it public.
It wasn’t two guys wondering”¿Quién are more macho?“It wasn’t boys who were boys. It wasn’t brutality after tempers flared. It was ugly; a straight punch to the jaw from Poole, not an open hand slap. Had this happened in public, Green likely would have faced aggravated assault charges.
And with this video, the reporting and analysis of history has changed dramatically.
React in The Athletic, writer and longtime Warriors columnist Marcus Thompson II explained all the ways it could be destructive for the team. Most players, coaches and officials didn’t see the hit when it happened. They saw it the same way we do. Green is supposed to protect players like Poole from opponents, not attack him violently. How could this not be considered a betrayal of trust?
After covering Green his entire career with Golden State, Thompson assumed the 10-year veteran had to deal with something off the court that would lead to such an outburst. Is this his contractual situation? Sensitive situation for Green inflamed by Poole, as reported Yahoo! Sports Chris Haynes?
Green is entering his 11th season and possibly the last year of his contract. (He has a player option for the 2023-24 season, but could withdraw if he asks for a maximum contract extension.)
Meanwhile, Poole is a rising star for the Warriors, breaking out in his third season to become a feared scoring threat alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. (Poole effectively replaced Thompson, who was limited to 32 regular-season games while recovering from an Achilles tendon injury.) With his contract set to expire after the season, Golden State is reportedly willing to offer Poole an extension.
Yet even before the video was released, Curry, head coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers disputed that Poole had shown more attitude with his pending contract extension. Were they trying to stop a potential story before it could develop? Or was the team management trying to establish what the video seemed to show, that it was all about Green and that he posed a major threat to the harmony of the club?
Without the video, fans and the media might have tried to interpret the tension between Green and Poole (and other teammates). If Green looked offside, most would likely point to his contract status. If the Warriors started the season with a shaky start, the team’s chemistry would have been in question. All of that would have been typical for following a team through an 82-game season.
But now we have the visual of Green punching Poole in the jaw. Can the Warriors overcome this? How many workplaces would be able to do this, even if the sport doesn’t often seem like real life to the fans? These questions will surely be asked as Green takes time of the team.
Another storyline that developed in light of the released video is how it was leaked to TMZ? That he has done? Was it someone associated with the team? Or near Poole? This would create another wave of conspiracy theories about management trying to get rid of Green and other potential issues.
If Green plays this season for Golden State, will opposing players try to antagonize him, hoping to elicit the kind of reaction that could disrupt his game, or get him ejected and suspended? And if Green’s behavior continues to be explosive, how might that affect a future contract with another NBA team? Or as Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN First takeWill Green now be on his best behavior because he can’t afford not to be?
With a long regular season and increasingly popular TV, radio and podcasts covering the NBA, the Green-Poole fight would have created a lot of content, especially in the early months of the campaign. If this confrontation had only been seen by a few, if it had been kept in-house, the story might even have come to an end.
But the video changed everything. The images may have created a situation too volatile to be covered up and forgotten. And the 2022-23 NBA season could be affected.