SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green offered a public apology and announced he will step away from the team indefinitely following an altercation on Wednesday between him and Jordan Poole.
“I’m going to continue to stay away, as I’ve been away, and continue to do work on myself, but also just give guys space,” Green said in a press conference on Saturday. “I do want to give my team some space, I want to give Jordan some space, and then also take a few days and continue to work on myself … take some time to let everything breathe.”
Green initially apologized to Poole and the team on Thursday before practice, and then immediately left the facilities and went home.
In addition to a team-wide apology, Green said he has apologized to Poole individually, and has also offered apologies to Poole’s family. But Green doesn’t know how his apologies have landed with Poole.
“Jordan’s feelings are the most important, and to be honest I’m not sure how he feels,” Green said. “That’s not a bridge we have crossed yet, nor should it be a bridge we’ve crossed yet.”
“The most important thing initially is to allow Jordan to work through his thoughts and not me try to persuade his thoughts one way or another.”
On Friday, a video was leaked that showed the incident, which prompted Green and the Warriors to mutually agree he should spend more time away from the team. The Warriors have also launched an investigation to find the source of the leak, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
“I watched the video 15 times, maybe more, because when I watched the video, I’m like, yo, this looks awful,” Green said. “This looks even worse than I thought it was. It’s pathetic.”
According to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the video leak has impacted the way the team has been able to move forward from the altercation.
“In 32 years, I’ve probably seen 20-plus fights. It should not make it out of our walls,” Kerr said.
“When things are kept internally, it’s almost easy to handle,” he continued. “As soon as things are leaked, all hell breaks loose. That effects every single player, coach … It’s like if you had a camera in your family and there was a family dispute. Would you really want to discuss it with the world? No.”
The video does not show anything prior to Green punching Poole, and Green did not specify the events leading up to the incident, saying he didn’t want to use “sympathy tactics” or reveal anything that could change people’s minds on what happened. But he did say it did not stem from impending and ongoing contract negotiations for himself and Poole.
Poole is eligible for a rookie extension, and his representation is in the process of negotiating with the Warriors. Both parties are using the Oct. 17 deadline as a driving force to get a deal done, and avoid the possibility of him entering restricted free agency next summer.
Green has a player option waiting at the end of this season. If it is not picked up, Green will become an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Green has publicly stated that he doesn’t believe he and the Warriors will reach an agreement this year.
On Thursday, Warriors general manager Bob Myers shared the same sentiment — that the altercation was not motivated by contract discussions — and said from his point of view, the fight stemmed from normal in-practice trash talk.
“That day that took place I was in a very, very bad space mentally,” Green said. “As a leader of this team, I needed to have a better feel for myself and just know and understand where my wick’s end was and what could possibly push me the wrong way. Frankly, I didn’t handle that well and I failed as a leader. I failed as a man and I failed as a leader.”
Green said that while he is away from the team, he will take steps to work on himself, but did not specify what those steps will be.
“I like to keep my emotions to myself, but what I do want to change and what I do want to work on is how they end up coming out and how do you let them out without them coming out in a way you ultimately regret,” Green said. “And this is one I sincerely regret. There are not many things in life I regret.”
“I failed as a man and I failed as a leader.”
Green’s fire and tough love is viewed as a positive attribute by the Warriors. On media day, Klay Thompson said being yelled at by Green is “practically a bylaw” and that if you couldn’t handle it, you probably shouldn’t play for the Warriors.
But there have been multiple occasions where Green has crossed the line. This one, though, feels different, according to Green.
“It’s absolutely different because someone else was affected in a major way,” Green said. “With word arguments, it requires two people … words have an effect, for sure, but they do not have the same effect as actions … when you have something that is action-packed, it is different than just some words.”
Green has historically had a close relationship with Poole, and intentionally made sure their lockers were next to each other since Poole was drafted in 2019. Last season, Green said the moment he knew he liked Poole was when he saw him trash-talking during Poole’s first training camp.
“My love is there and my love ain’t going nowhere. I will continue to support him and lead him,” Green said. “Leading comes with a responsibility that I dropped the ball on. You have to rebuild the trust in that.”
Though Green hasn’t decided how long his absence will be, he plans on being available opening night on Oct. 18 against the Los Angeles Lakers. An official decision by the team has not been made, but Myers initially said he didn’t expect Green to miss any games.