Time to Walk - Time to Walk with Draymond Green

Draymond Green: I try to go on a walk maybe once every couple weeks.

It’s your time to lose yourself in nature, free your thoughts, take all the great things that this world has to offer in and just breathe and kind of let everything out. All the daily stresses that we all go through, just go on your walk and kind of let them all out.


Sam Sanchez: It’s Time To Walk, where some of the world’s most interesting and inspiring people share stories, photos and songs that have influenced their lives. NBA champion Draymond Green is a true warrior, in more ways than one. Growing up, he learned the value of dreaming big and working hard to prove himself. Now, he has won three NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors, helping change how the game is played. On this walk, Draymond reflects on the virtues of failure and tuning out criticism to focus on his own path.


Draymond Green: So we’re here in Malibu, out walking. And, you know the thing I love about this walk is it’s elevated. And so you’re above the water.

You get a mixture of just about everything. You get the sounds of the waves crashing in on the shore. You get the sound of the road you know with the cars, and then you also get the birds chirping from the beautiful trees and land that we have out here in Malibu.

So I think, you know, this is a great place for a beautiful walk because you get all the sounds of everything, and you find peace in whichever one of those sounds that you want to find peace in.

In life, we all have turning points where you kind of reach somewhere, and it’s a very pivotal moment. For me, the first one that I can truly remember was my freshman year of high school.

Growing up, I was a very intelligent kid, and I remember my mom used to always say to me, “Don’t be a follower. Be a leader. Be a leader.” Just like any other kid, I wouldn’t always live up to that expectation. So my freshman year of high school, I had a 3.3 GPA my first semester, which was okay. Could’ve been better, but it’s pretty good. The second semester, I got lazy and, you know, fat and sassy. I had a great basketball season. I actually played freshman basketball, which was a bit upsetting. But I averaged 27 points a game. And I let my grades slip.

My science class, we had a study guide and some of the questions that were in the study guide were on the test. I mean, I essentially needed to get one question right on the exam, and I’d pass the class. And so what did I do? I decided that I was going to take my study guide and put the study guide under the test and cheat.

My teacher let me get all the way to the last question, as he watched me cheat from his desk and I thought I was getting away. I had one more question to finish on the exam, and he came and took my exam. Obviously, he saw the guide underneath and he took that. I failed the class.

Maybe three weeks later, our report cards were sent to our homes. When the mail came, I got up, and I left the house immediately. I went walking down the street. I could hear, four blocks away, my mom yelling my name, screaming.

That was a big summer for me. I was headed to varsity. I was going to Michigan State Team Camp, going to Las Vegas for a huge AAU tournament with all the top coaches in America that you can imagine from the top colleges. You name it, they were all going to be there. And my mom said, “No. You will go to summer school and take those classes over, and that’s that.”

I was a pretty good basketball player.

Everyone in the city… I come from a small city, Saginaw, Michigan. Everyone in the city wanted me playing. So they were all coming to the house. And she’s like, “No, he’s not playing.” Athletic director. “No, he’s not playing.”

She said, “It really hurts me to not allow you to go, but I have to do this because if you don’t get your grades, you can’t go to college, anyway. And when you’re stuck here in Saginaw, all of these people that’s coming to the house asking if you can go play, they won’t care. It is my duty to make sure that you live up to what you need to live up to in order to move forward in your life.”

The moment I walked into summer school, I was furious because going to summer school in the city where I’m from is almost like getting kicked out of school and going to an alternative school for troubled kids. No one goes to summer school if you got good grades. You’re only going to summer school to make up grades and make up classes that you struggled in. I never had to do that. So, immediately when I walked in, I felt like a failure. I don’t belong here.

Not that I thought I was better than anyone there but I knew better than to slack off on my grades and end up in that place. I knew at that point I never wanted to fail again.

Now, the one thing that that did in my life was it also set me up for a bunch of other failures because it gave me the fear of failure, and then I had to learn how to deal with failure. Because, if you want to reach greatness at any level in anything, you have to experience failure. So what it did is it taught me how to deal with failure. It taught me how to deal with it and come out on the other side of success. That’s what summer school did for me. That’s what that moment did for me. That’s what my mom not allowing me to play basketball that summer, that’s what it did for me. It gave me the fear of failure.

The same thing applies to all the failures in my life today, how to come out of that failure on the other side, looking the complete opposite direction and never looking back. You experience other failures, but you should never experience that same failure again. That’s what that moment in my life taught me.

Going to Michigan State, I will never forget everybody saying, “You’re stupid. Why would you go there? You’ll never play at Michigan State. You’re a mid-major player at best. You’re too small for your forward position. You’re too slow. Blah, blah, blah.”

For me, that was perfect because one of the main reasons I went to Michigan State was to show everyone that, “Draymond Green’s going there, and I’m going to find a way onto the floor.” And so everybody doubting me was all the fuel that I ever needed.

All the doubt going in my freshman year and not playing much and just having to earn every single thing that I got, it motivated me.

During my senior year, I went and proved everybody wrong. I won Big Ten Player of the Year. I won National Player of the Year. Pursuing the ultimate dream that every kid has growing up playing basketball of playing in the NBA. Everything is setting up exactly how I needed it to play out.

I have to get drafted in the first round. And I proved everybody wrong. Y’all said I’d never play, I couldn’t do it at this level. No one wins National Player of the Year and not get drafted in the first round. I don’t get drafted in the first round. I go in the second round: Golden State Warriors.

It’s one of the most bittersweet days of my life because in my mind, it’s like, “But everything y’all said I couldn’t do, I did it. So why am I going second round now?”

[In] 2012, when I got drafted, there was a very, very dangerous word used by NBA scouts, NBA front offices, NBA commentators, NBA writers, the word “tweener.” It means you’re in between positions, like, “You could be a power forward. You could be a small forward. But you’re not either one of them.” And at that time, that was almost like a death sentence. And so everyone said, “What position would Draymond guard? He’s a tweener. He can’t guard the big men. He’s too slow to guard the guards.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth. But that’s what they were saying, and so of course, I slid to the second round.

When you go first round in the NBA draft, the general managers, the people in positions to make these decisions, they are the ones that want to say, “I drafted that guy. I got it right.” And so, because of that, you get the first, second, and third and sometimes even a fourth chance to show and prove what you can do. Not as a second round pick. As a second round pick, you get one chance. And I knew at that point, going first round, it just didn’t fit my story. Because at that moment, y’all are ready to give me something.

I’ve never been given anything. Everything I’ve ever gotten, especially in the game of basketball, I had to work my tail off for that. Being a second round pick, it fueled me. I immediately said at that moment, “I want to be a starter. I want to be an all-star, and I want to make it to the Hall of Fame.”

My rookie year, Mark Jackson was our coach. I will never forget, right before the first game, he said, “Hey, man, I’m not sure how much you’ll play tomorrow or any games coming up, but I just want you to know that this league has a very funny way of working itself out. You’re going to always get an opportunity. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow. But whenever your opportunity come, make sure you’re ready to take advantage of that opportunity because, if you’re not, that opportunity may never come back to you.”

I worked, and I worked, and I worked, and in 2014-15 season, I caught my break. David Lee, who was an all-star power forward, he got hurt in the pre-season. And when David got hurt, I moved into the starting role. And that was my moment of, “Wow. Now is my chance to become everything that I’ve always dreamed of being in this league.” When I was given the opportunity as a starter, I simply said to myself, “I am not going to go out there and try to be David Lee. I am much better at being Draymond Green. Why get this far and then stop because people are saying you’re a tweener?”

Being a tweener worked to my advantage because what did it do? It allowed me, it allowed our team to tap into a defense that the NBA hadn’t really seen before. We switched everything, and we went on to win a championship.

The game as we watch it today is heavily influenced by the way the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors played the game of basketball. Now no one’s talking about,“This guy coming out the draft is a tweener,” anymore. The conversation switches to, “We are looking for the next guy who can defend and play multiple positions.” All of a sudden it’s not a death sentence, it’s actually a badge of honor to be, what used to be, considered a tweener.

The thing that I love about basketball is all the things that I learn, I try to apply them to life. Sports and life, they’re very synonymous.

There are tweeners all over the world that they do a little bit of this good, they do a little bit of that good. They may not be great at putting a business plan together, but they’re pretty good at executing. They’re pretty good at bringing people together, may not be the best, but they’re pretty good at that. And when you put all those things together, and you mix in a bit of confidence in there, you can create whatever it is that you want to create. It doesn’t have to always be by the book because this is how it was done before.

No, that’s not true. It’s so far from the truth. I have to go about it the best way that I know how and be confident in the way that I do things and trust that the way that I do them and the way that I’ve worked at this my entire life, it’s going to get me over the hump.

I didn’t give it what you thought was my best shot, what you thought was the best shot. I didn’t give it that because that is not going to work for me. And, at the end of the day, if I give it my best shot, I can live with that. But what I can’t live with is doing everything that you told me to do the way you wanted me to do it, and it’s completely opposite of the way I’ve grown to know how to do it. That never works.

[In] 2016, I was an all-star for the first time. I went to the second straight NBA Finals. I was making the most money, at that point, I had ever made in my life. And my year sucked. I had one of the worst years of my life.

I was going through a lot on the basketball court. I got one more flagrant foul point until I’m suspended. I got one more technical foul until I’m suspended. I was being painted as a dirty player, cheap shot guy, head case, don’t know how to control my temper, all of these things.

And I knew those things were so far from the truth. I knew I wasn’t a dirty player. I play hard. Will I hit somebody? Absolutely. It’s basketball. You need to get hit. But I’m nowhere near a dirty player. I would never try to hurt anyone. I would never cheap shot anyone intentionally. To me, dirty players are not tough. Dirty players are dirty because they’re soft. I don’t believe in that.

I had been built as this key piece to the Warriors and defensive guy and heart and soul of the team. And now I’m completely being ripped to shreds, and it’s really bothering me. It’s the first time that I’ve kind of been built up to this point, and now they’re tearing me down. I didn’t know how to deal with it.

And so, one thing… And I think everybody saw it with the outpour when Kobe passed away. You saw how much we all loved Kobe. And we loved Kobe for a reason because the reality is what everyone saw… Until Kobe’s final year in the NBA, what everyone saw was the Black Mamba who didn’t talk to anyone, who was tunnel vision on scoring the basketball and winning. Like, these are all the things that everyone would say about Kobe until his last year, and then the world realized how great of a guy Kobe truly was.

However, us young guys, we knew long before because no matter what, Kobe’s Kobe. Kobe’s one of the greatest ever. No matter what, you can get Kobe’s number. You can text him at 3:00 in the morning. He’s going to hit you back. If you want to work out with him, he’ll work out. You name it, Kobe would do it. But to the world, everybody think it’s this guy who’s just this hard-ass that doesn’t like anyone. But all of us young guys knew. He was the big brother that we all had and could call on for anything.

So I’m being ripped to shreds during 2016 finals, and I’m at a place where I’m just mentally ready to check out, just basketball stuff, just finals, whatever. And I called Kobe, and I said, “Kob, I don’t know what to do. I’m frustrated. These people are tearing me down. They’re taking shots at my character.”

Kobe said to me something that I’ll never forget. He said, “Draymond, stop. If you continue to wait and worry about them understanding you, you will spend the rest of your career worried about them understanding you. They’ll never understand you. But what you have to understand is 99% of the world is satisfied with mediocrity or worse. You’re doing all that you can to do something that is so insanely hard and nearly impossible to do, and yet you’re spending your time worried about if they understand what you’re doing or not. Just go out there, play your game, be you unapologetically.”

That was everything and all that I needed to continue moving forward being exactly who I knew to be, which was me.

I stopped reading what they were saying at that point. It didn’t even matter anymore to me. You can be saying I’m the best thing since sliced bread. It really didn’t matter to me anymore because I was so comfortable in who I was and the work that I had put in and the competitive spirit and drive that I had that I didn’t even care anymore about what anyone thought. I just knew the goals that I had, what I wanted to accomplish, and that’s the only thing that mattered to me.

In the process of trying to please everyone else, there’s always going to be someone upset that don’t like what you did, whatever that thing is. Then you’re going to sit there and dissect everything that they think about what you’re doing? It doesn’t even make sense.

It don’t matter what everyone else thinks about what it is that you want to do. Do what gives you gratification. Do what makes you feel good. Do what makes you feel whole, what makes you feel accomplished because at the end of the day, that’s what matters.

The one thing that all my stories have in common is that every single one of them began with the same little boy from Saginaw, Michigan. As a young kid from Saginaw, you’re not really even given the opportunity to dream. But I dreamed, anyway. I was never, ever in a million years was supposed to be standing on this cliff and looking at this beautiful scenery, all these amazing things and experiences that life has to offer. It’s such an incredible feeling.

Music is only as a good as it makes you feel. If it moves you, you listen. I think in music, what I like to find is songs that I listen to and like, they directly relate to my life.

You know, Rick Ross, “Push It.” When I hear that, it really hits home with me. I’ve always been someone to push it to the limit, almost a line-stepper, like, “Oh, you say don’t step on this line? You mean, like, this line?” Push it to the limit. That’s how you reach your dreams. That’s how you reach your goal because the reality is there is no limit.


I’ll never forget after my first, or our first, championship that we won - there’s no feeling like getting your rings with the whole world watching. The Warriors hadn’t won a championship in 40 years. 40 years! And then Drake drops, “Big Rings,” after we win the finals.

When you win a championship and you’re doing the ceremony, everyone always plays…


Like, alright, that’s cool, but we played really “Big Rings.” And we got some really big rings. I don’t even wear them. They cut into my finger. Every time I hear that song, it takes me back to that happy moment.


When I listen to DaBaby, he blossomed to stardom so fast, and he’s had some hiccups in his personal life. I really, truly can identify with that because I had some mishaps throughout the course of my career. And for a while, I was just doing whatever I wanted, and it almost cost me. But I was able to reel it in and kind of get a grip, and I still do what I want. I’m just much more mature about doing what I want. This is “Suge” by DaBaby.


I’m thankful and overjoyed to be telling my story in hopes that it can connect, it can register with someone else and give them that same drive to chase their dreams that I had in chasing mine. Because once you’re able to live that dream, it’s one of the most beautiful and precious things in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to walk with me and go on this journey with me today.

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