Sitting atop the stage at his alma mater, Monte Vista High School in Dublin, Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers said:
“Life isn’t fair, but this year it was.”
What Myers was referring to wasn’t just the shiny 2017 Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy that stood on stage just a few feet in front of him. Instead he was speaking in context of the recognition of receiving the NBA’s Executive of the Year award as well as Draymond Green’s validation in being named the KIA NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY).
For the emotional Myers, it is now the second time winning the Executive of the Year award in three years. For Green, it is his first year accepting the DPOY award, despite emerging as a finalist in each of the last three seasons.
The word “fair,” used by Myers, comes from the notion that Green should have won the award in at least one of the last two years instead San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who received the honor in 2015 and 2016.
This year, however, Green was able to dethrone Leonard and claim the trophy as his own subsequent to putting up perhaps the best defensive season of his career.
In 76 games played during the regular season, Green averaged a league high in steals per game (2.0). He also finished second in the league in opponents field goal percentage within five feet of the basket (.439), and 12th in blocks per game 1.39), helping lead the Warriors to the league’s best defensive rating (99.3 or only allowing 99.3 points per 100 possessions).
Green reflected on the significance of being recognized as the league’s best defender but took the time to give the credit to his teammates:
“It’s amazing. Obviously it’s something that I’ve wanted to win. But in saying that, I can’t thank my teammates enough. … If we’re the number twelve defense in the league, I don’t win defensive player of the year. It’s one of those things where, yeah I’m thankful and had to make some plays, but I’m thankful more so for my teammates because they knew how important it was to me but also how important that side of the ball is to me.”
Green also spoke about his early development as a defensive player and the things he learned growing up. One story included how he learned help-side-defense at the tender age of 12:
“[My coaches] took the time to teach me fundamentals. Coach Dawkins taught me help-side-defense when I was twelve. And here I am, like I think I’m a pretty good on-ball defender, but I think I’m a spectacular. That didn’t start three years ago. It didn’t start seven years ago. I learned help-side-defense when I was twelve. I don’t know how many people can say that.”
It has been said that there is no such thing as “fair” in the real world. But for players like Draymond Green and front office executives like Bob Myers, this year did turn out to be that tabooed “F” word which also came with it’s “fair” share of hardware when it was all said and done.