By Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports NBA Writer
He saw how bad it looked. How bad he looked. At that moment, he was lost in his emotions. But after TMZ obtained a video of the incident, he watched his actions in the harsh light of reality, undistorted by his rage. It was appalling, as it was for the millions of other people who saw it.
“I failed as a leader,” Green said. “I failed as a man.”
Green watched the video at least 15 times. He was disturbed that Poole’s family had to see that. He imagined how his mother would feel watching him getting punched. His wife is now being told it’s only a matter of time before she’ll be on the receiving end of Green’s violence. He apologized to Poole’s family and his own family.
Green spoke for nearly 40 minutes at Chase Center on Saturday, addressing the incident for the first time. He was raw, candid, vulnerable and full of regret. He said he will be taking a few days away from the Warriors to let everyone heal.
“I am a very flawed human being,” Green said.
Green didn’t make excuses for himself. He said he was in a “very, very bad space mentally” Wednesday because of issues in his personal life. He said he needs to learn how to control himself. How to recognize when he’s on a hairpin trigger. How to prevent himself from doing anything like this again.
When he was asked what set him off, he declined to tell his side of the story. He said that would be a “sympathy tactic.”
“I’m not looking for sympathy,” Green said. “… If anyone deserves some sympathy, it’s Jordan, it’s this team.”
He intends to use his time away from the team to think. He knows that his actions severed the trust between him and Poole, someone whom he claims he took under his wing when the Warriors selected Poole as the 28th overall pick in the 2019 draft.
“Hurt people hurt people,” Green said. “I was in a very contentious space that morning of dealing with some things that are very near and dear to me, and I hurt someone because I was in a place of hurt. For that, I have apologized. And you apologize with words, but, ultimately, your actions show your apologies.”
Green said he has always struggled with controlling his emotions.
He said he internalizes things. He’s more comfortable that way. He feels safer when people don’t know what he’s feeling. But things inevitably bubble up and explode. He knows he must make changes.
“One thing I lack is how to let emotions out,” said Green, who was raised below the poverty line by a single mother for much of his childhood in Saginaw, Michigan. “… The way I grew up, dealing with the things I had to deal with, you learn to internalize a bunch of things.”
Green said he plans to do some deep reflection. It is unclear how long he’ll be away from the team. He said he hopes to play in the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 18, but nothing has been decided.
When Green apologized to Poole and the Warriors on Thursday, he said he “didn’t get much” from Poole, nor did he expect to. He wants to give him time to work though his feelings. Green imagined how uncomfortable it would be when the Warriors receive their championship rings alongside both his family and Poole’s family.
“There’s this dark cloud in the room,” Green said. “And I caused that.”
When Green returns to the team, he said he hopes he can regain everyone’s trust. He made it clear that his dispute with Poole had nothing to do with them both being up for contract extensions, dismissing that as “hating on another man’s situation,” which is “something that you just don’t do.”
In fact, when Green was asked how he feels about Poole, he said there’s nothing but love there — at least on his end. He pointed out that their lockers have been next to each other from Day 1 for a reason.
“I’m the guy who supported Jordan when he was sent to the G League and no one thought he had a chance,” Green said. “I’m the guy calling him, ‘Hey man, you should be doing this’ or ‘Good game.'”
Green said he has no idea how Poole feels about the situation yet. He knows it’s up to Poole to decide whether he forgives him. Either way, he said he’s still going to try to help Poole whenever he can.
When Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked Saturday if the team’s trust for Green has been compromised, he said, “No comment.” When he was asked how Green’s apology was received, he said, “Nobody’s business but ours.”
Kerr was clipped. But he made one thing clear: He was deeply upset that the video of Green’s punch was leaked. (Sources told FOX Sports Friday that the team is investigating how the video got out.) Now the entire team is being dragged through the mud.
Draymond’s punch video surfaces via TMZ
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Kerr said that the Warriors have an issue with leaks, pointing out that last season, Andrew Wiggins‘ resistance to getting the COVID vaccine also got out. Kerr added that he has witnessed 20-plus fistfights at practices in his 32 years around the league, and never before has a video been released to the public.
“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?” Kerr asked. “No, of course not. You want to handle it internally.”
As for the Warriors, neither Kerr nor Green think this will affect their chances of competing for a title this season. The team’s core of Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson has been through a lot of drama, a lot of hurt and a lot of setbacks — but has persevered to become this generation’s dynasty, reaching the NBA Finals six of the last eight years and winning four championships.
“This won’t affect winning,” Green said. “Winners win. Winners find a way. And we’ll win.”
But Green knows it’s on him to make sure the Warriors can overcome this. He needs to figure out how to reintegrate with the team. He needs to prove himself to everyone around him.
He’s trying to take responsibility. He said he chose not to address the situation on his podcast, so he wouldn’t be hiding behind a computer screen. He wanted to face reporters, answer their questions and take responsibility for his actions.
Green knows it’s going to be a bumpy road back from this, but he intends to do everything in his power to turn things around.
“This is one that I sincerely regret,” he said.
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.
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