Draymond Green was drafted in 2012 with the 35th overall pick by Golden State, and his presence in the basketball realm was significant and immediate. Known as a top NBA defender, he completely transformed his body in a single offseason through hard work and dedication. Draymond preaches confidence on the court, and having fun off of it, and that combo must work because last season, he was an integral part of Golden State’s championship team.
EASTBAY: First of all, what’s it like to be an NBA Champion?
DRAYMOND: It’s hard to put into words. It continues to feel surreal. I sometimes sit back and think, “Man, we won an NBA Championship? I’m an NBA Champion?” It never feels real. It’s just a very good feeling that’s very, very hard to describe to anyone else. It was like “Wow, I can breathe now.”
EASTBAY: You guys had incredible on-court symmetry. How were you able to accomplish that?
DRAYMOND: It was a work in progress. We got a new coaching staff. We had to iron out a lot of kinks. If you would’ve seen us day one in training camp, you would’ve never thought we would win the championship. Coach used say, “We just have to get better. We’re not very good.” I knew we had an opportunity to be really good, but if you would’ve seen us, it was like elementary school. It was tough, but you’re talking about a team that’s very close off the court. Being that close carries over onto the court. You trust each other.
EASTBAY: How did winning two state championships in high school prepare you for this?
DRAYMOND: Back then that was the biggest thing in my life. Like, “Man, we’re state champs.” It taught me how to be a winner and the necessary steps you need to take to go back-to-back. We won a lot at MSU: the Big Ten Tournament, we won three Big Ten Championships, played in two Final Fours, and played in the National Championship game. Going from all of those steps to winning an NBA championship, you continue to learn because it gets tougher and tougher. There are a lot of things that go into that. And those past experiences of winning have helped prepare me for this moment.
EASTBAY: What was the experience like at Michigan State.
DRAYMOND: I always wear Michigan State gear. I love Michigan State. It’s a huge reason behind where I am today. Playing for Izzo — for him, good isn’t good enough, and great isn’t great enough. He’s looking for perfection. And you know how often you’re going to reach perfection no matter what you’re doing? Zero. But what that does is push you to be better, and continue to push you to work and want more. I thought I was good when I got to MSU, but I wasn’t. I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know how to work. I didn’t know how to work out. Growing up, all I did was play basketball every day. Obviously, playing every day, you’re going get better, but some of the things that I needed to do, I didn’t have the slightest clue. And they taught me that.
EASTBAY: What are your goals heading into next season?
DRAYMOND: I have a few different goals that span past the season. But number one, to come into the season in-shape. Everyone talks about the championship hangover, and everyone’s gonna be gunnin’ for you from the jump. So, come back in good shape. I want to shoot. I don’t want to be streaky from the 3-point line. I don’t want to put a number on it, because if you get to that number, you’re satisfied, and if you don’t, people look at you as a failure. So, I just want to be more consistent from the 3-point line. Also, I want to push for the All-Star Game. That’s one of the next steps in my career. I’ve won a championship, and I want to win many more of those. But I want to be an All-Star. It’s something that’s really high on my priority list. Obviously, I want to go back-to-back. Not many teams have done that, and I want to be on one of those teams that do that — and I think we can do it. I want to make the USA roster. That’s one of my biggest goals. When I played in the World University Game going into my senior year of college, we fell short and didn’t win gold. I was crushed, because I was thinking that was my last opportunity to play for USA. But to be provided that opportunity for next year’s training camp, it’s a realistic goal.
EASTBAY: What are you doing right now to prepare for that?
DRAYMOND: One thing I’m really taking more seriously is lifting — strength and conditioning. I’ve been able to lose weight and change my body over the course of my career, but the one thing I need to take more seriously is the weights part. I’ve done cardio and all that stuff, but as far as lifting weights and strengthening my core, I haven’t really taken that as seriously as I need to. It’s the first time since my junior year where I’ve really focused on lifting. And that’s when I took off.
EASTBAY: What kind of advice would you give a high school kid in order to stay on top of their game?
DRAYMOND: Number one, you have to work. When you think you’re at the top, you have to work even harder than you did to get where you are. Always want to get better. You’re never good enough, because there’s always somebody else working. Believe it or not, but there’s always somebody out there that’s better. As far as repeating, you’ve got to come into the mindset that everyone’s gunning for you if you’re a champion and trying to repeat. There are no nights off. Even if it’s the worst team in the league, they’re gunning for you. You’ve gotta sacrifice for each other if you want to win a championship. Everybody’s gonna be in your ear, everybody thinks they have an answer now, but they don’t know what you really went through to win that championship together. Ya’ll got to stick together, with that mindset of “it’s us against the world.”
EASTBAY: You’re wearing the Soldier now, what do you think about it?
DRAYMOND: I used to wear the Soldier in college when it was super heavy, but I was super heavy in college. As the years have gone on, it’s continued to get lighter and lighter and just become a much better shoe. I think it’s just one of the most comfortable shoes, and I feel I get the ankle support I need. I’ve worn it in the last two NBA seasons, and it’s been phenomenal. Grab all the Nike basketball gear Draymond trusts.
EASTBAY: What do you think about the straps on the Soldier 9?
DRAYMOND: I think the straps are great — the placement is phenomenal. The top strap gives me all the ankle support in the world.
EASTBAY: Do you have any pre-game rituals with your gear?
DRAYMOND: When I warm up, I wear a certain thing every game, no matter what it is. If I have a bad game, you know, sometimes I’ll switch shirts or something, but I usually try to keep everything the same. And I don’t get dressed until coach starts talking. No matter if I’m bored with nothing to do, I will not get dressed and put my shorts and jersey on until he starts talking. It’s just something I started doing, and I like to keep everything the same. I’m one of those guys who thinks “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and it’s never been broke, so why fix it?
EASTBAY: What does it mean to be an athlete on Eastbay’s catalog?
DRAYMOND: For someone to tell me that I’m gonna be on the cover of Eastbay, I kept laughing at them. You have these dreams, but they seem so farfetched. You want to believe it, but you really know it will never happen. And just to be on the cover of Eastbay, that’s one one of those dreams like, “aww man that would be dope, but it will never happen.” For it to be happening — it’s amazing to me.