Draymond Green On His “Feelings of Appreciation” Making Sixth NBA Finals Appearence

The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years, and it’s all thanks to their star core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson.

The three foundational members of the championship Warriors have gone through a lot since their first championship run in 2015. They’ve seen it all from failure in the Finals, teammates departing, and injuries. The journey from bottoming out in 2020 and narrowly missing the playoffs in 2021 makes this trip to the Finals all the sweeter for Curry, Green, and Thompson.

“It’s happened multiple times for me now,” Green told Marc J. Spears of Andscape after the Warriors’ practice on Monday. “You go through these moments, and you feel like you put all the work in to get through, and then you get to the moment, and the only two things I can think about once you get to the moment: No. 1, is the feeling of appreciation that I get for seeing guys that have not done it before. That first-time feeling, and just sitting there and watching them, and how they react, and how they smile, and how they appreciate that first-time feeling.

“You go through it, and you like, ‘Man, I got to feel that again.’ And the reality is you never feel it again. You go through it that first time, you never feel that way again — And so, I think for me, I get to that space, and then you just start to look around, and it just brings joy to see guys go through it for their first time.

For Green, he finds as much joy, if not more, when he sees the reactions of guys like Jordan Poole, Nemanja Bjelica, and Jonathan Kuminga, who are making their Finals run. As the Western Conference Finals trophy was moved and the Warriors celebrated their series win, Green recalled the familiar feeling of “you get to that moment after all the work that you put in, and it’s getting the trophy, and you just can’t help but think about the journey. What did it take to get here? How did this happen?”

Green also recollected being fearful of never getting that championship feeling again. Like many other past champions, Green said the only way to get that feeling back was to keep winning ‘ships. He did add one caveat, though. Winning, again and again, didn’t elicit the same feelings as the first title, but he does feel satisfied.

“Once you put yourself in the position to where you thought you would get that feeling back, it’s satisfying enough. I didn’t necessarily get that feeling that I got the first time, but I understand it now, and it’s satisfying, the feeling that I do get. The feeling of appreciation, the feeling of watching these guys for their first time experience the highest pinnacle of basketball, and their appreciation for it.”

When Game 1 of the NBA Finals kicks off on Thursday, Green recognized that the Celtics “have it on the offensive end, they have it on the defensive end.” and that Boston has been the best team in the NBA since January while also lauding their hunger for greatness and the culture they’ve built within the organization. The main thing the Warriors have to figure out, per Green, is Boston’s weakness on defense.

After learning what “the real NBA” is after two straight years of losing, Green and the Warriors are back in the spotlight and playing basketball when it matters the most. Green also said he’s back to enjoying hooping says he has “a much larger appreciation for it now than I did” since playing in the Finals “was kind of all I knew.” All in all, helping lead the Warriors to their sixth Finals trip since 2015 simply means this.

“It just shows the continuity and the focus level that we have. But most importantly, the competitive spirit and nature that we have. When we set out on this journey eight years ago, I can’t say we expected this. But we did know that we had a young group, a young core and that if we can put it together, we can be good for a very long time. And see it actually come to a fruition, it’s special.”