One Player and the Mission: What Draymond Green Can Teach Us About Business
Aaron Perlut | Partner

With America’s appetite for basketball at the front our collective consciousnesses thanks to the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, it’s an apropos time to examine Draymond Green—a very good professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors and his relationship to today’s business landscape.

Green is what’s called a “glue guy” in basketball circles. This means that where he excels doesn’t necessarily show up on a statistically—but he defends, is physical, unselfish when the ball is in his hands, a great passer and rebounder, and will add 12 – 14 points per game.

In marketing terms, it would be like having an incredibly hard working, dedicated teammate who is analytical, calm under fire, has a great creative brain and would do any task to help win or further a business relationship. They might not pitch a final product to a client, but their contributions are essential.

In spite of Green’s on-court talents, however, he is somewhat of a ticking time bomb who some believe is more trouble than he’s worth. He has tallied some 165 technical fouls and paid more than $1.2 million in fines throughout his NBA career. Some of his more memorable incidents have included:

  • Kicking Oklahoma Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin during a game in 2016.
  • Elbowing LeBron James in the groin during Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals, after which he was suspended and some believe it cost the Warriors a championship.
  • Getting in an altercation with teammate and star player Kevin Durant in 2018.
  • Punching teammate Jordan Poole in the face during a practice in 2022.

  • Charging at Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert and putting him in a headlock in the first two minutes of a game in November 2023.
  • Hitting the Phoenix Suns’ Jusuf Nurkic in the head after the two were battling for position in December 2023.
  • And just last week, Green was ejected from a game against the Orlando Magic after he received two technical fouls for disputing two separate foul calls some four minutes into a game.

The latest incident vs. Orlando has renewed the conversation about his value to the Warriors and whether the organization has done a disservice to the team by tolerating Green’s behavior for some 12 years.

Indeed, why has the Warriors organization tolerated Green’s behavior for so long? There’s no one answer—there are actually four of them, as in, four championships the Warriors have won since Green joined the organization. At least until now, the team believed his distractions and time missed on the court due to penalty were worth the trouble as long as the Warriors were winning. But the 2024 squad are no longer the best team in the NBA’s Western Conference and just on the fringes of the playoffs, so the noise to see Green jettisoned is growing.

If you’re a marketer or in business, why should you care about Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors?

The team’s handling of Green has direct relevance to any organization. If you are a disruptive force, a constant distraction, if you hurt your team repeatedly and are not available to help further the broader mission—ultimately, you become more trouble than you are worth.

This is because teams demand accountability. We must all be rowing in some semblance of the same direction, committed to one another and our collective mission, and no singular player should ever be more important than the organization and its mission. Holding onto a strong performer in spite of disruptive antics is more often than not simply not worth the damage you may be creating to your organizational culture. I guess, that is, unless you average a triple-double. In that case, you can do what you want as long as you play on the company hoops team.

Aaron Perlut
Aaron Perlut is a cofounding partner of Elasticity with some 30 years of diverse experience in journalism, public relations and digital marketing. He is a former senior reputation management counselor at Omnicom-company FleishmanHillard, as well as a communications executive for two of the nation's largest energy companies. Throughout his career, Perlut has counseled a range of organizations---Fortune 500s, state governments, professional sports franchises, economic development authorities, well-funded startups and large non-profits---helping manage reputation and market brands across diverse channels in an evolving media environment.
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