Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is one of the foremost students of the game. So much so that he doesn't just understand the intricacies on the court; he also knows the ins and outs of the team as an organization. And Green uses this knowledge to understand the players — especially those recognized as stars but never won a title.
Too many variables
Though Green has three title rings in his trophy case, he knows how extremely tough it is to win one. It's not as simple as being the hardest worker in the room. Speaking with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, Green pointed out the plethora of variables — most of which are out of your control — that have to go right to win a title.
"As someone who has [won a championship], I understand all of the things that have to go right. You're talking health, players clicking... It's not just players clicking, the front office, the coaching staff, everybody!," Green said.
Green defended McGrady and Chris Paul — two who form part of the long list of players considered one of the greatest that have never won a ring. There's a pocket of critics who constantly dismiss their skills, banking on the fact that they never guided a team to a title. The list also includes Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, and a whole lot more.
Green shares his own experience
The former Defensive Player of the Year reads through these things using a lens crafted by his own experience. To recall, after winning three titles in five seasons, there were two years where the Warriors were nowhere near contention. Injuries on him, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry put their streak to a grinding halt. Some of their core players either retired, were traded away, or signed to another team. The Warriors' coaching staff also experienced some changes.
He compared this experience to that of the great Kobe Bryant. After Shaquille O'Neal left for Miami, Bryant and the Lakers struggled for two seasons. Bryant was working his tail off, averaging as much as 35.4 points per game, dropping 81 points, and knocking down game-winner after game-winner. But all of his efforts were not enough. The team just wasn't good enough to win a title.
McGrady and Green also agreed on another cold fact: not all teams are trying to win a championship. McGrady said that some teams are pleased when their "bottomline" is good. This is the reason, as per Green's observation, why there are only about two or three teams that dominate an era. In the 90s, it was the Chicago Bulls; in the 2000s, it was the Los Angeles Lakers, in the 2010s, it was LeBron James teams and the Warriors. Apart from the teams mentioned above, just one or two more snagged a title.
Green definitely has a good understanding of how the league works. Those three titles did not just go up over his head. He knows that apart from sheer hard work, much luck goes into winning a championship.