Draymond Green's game five suspension during the Warriors 2016 NBA finals loss to the Cavs was inarguably a huge turning point in the captivating series.
The All Star forward's absence was felt heavily as LeBron James' 41 points led his squad to 112-97 victory, taking a 2-3 deficit back to Cleveland. The rest is history.
Golden State's 3-1 lead evaporated amidst one of the great comebacks in sporting history, and Green took a lot of the fall for how his needless on court antics impacted his team.
The now 28-year-old copped a lot of heat from the media and furious fans, and he admits it was tough to handle.
Speaking on The Jim Rome Podcast, Green opened up about the most trying period of his career and how the widespread criticism affected him:
“I was kind of going through a situation where I was so worried about what everyone else was saying about me,” said Green. “It was just rough on me. Media was bashing me, fans were bashing me — saying I was who I absolutely knew I wasn’t — and it was really bothering me.”
Green then revealed that he'd gone to Kobe Bryant for advice on how to deal with the vociferous public condemnation of his behaviour on the court. Bryant reportedly told him to shut the noise out, because nobody would ever understand him or his actions in his pursuit of excellence.
Rome asked Green: "He [Kobe] said, if you wait for them to understand you, if you wait for that, “You’re just f-----.” That’s what he said, right?".
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Green replied. “And it’s true. I’ll wait the rest of my life waiting for them to understand it and they’ll never get it.”.
The 18-time All Star's advice clearly hit home with the Warriors' forward. He's certainly put those dark times behind him, making two All Star appearances, winning the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year award, and helping Golden State to another championship.
Bryant's wisdom on all things basketball are often sought out by young players these days; the retired star has become a mentor of sorts to the next generation and he's undoubtedly suited to the role.
Few players have carved their own path out like Bryant's largely solo journey in a team sport. He's faced more criticism than the vast majority of stars in the game, and he seems more than happy to impart his extensive knowledge of the game onto willing students.
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