During the news conference to announce his new five-year, $85 million deal, all the focus was on Draymond Green. But the person who made it all possible was sitting in the front row.
“She’s been everything for me,” Green said of his mother, Mary Babers-Green.
Before any questions were asked or any photos were taken, Green made sure his mother was singled out, with emcee and team television analyst Jim Barnett welcoming Babers-Green as a “tremendous, tremendous lady.”
Green acknowledged that without the guidance of that lady, he wouldn’t have been on stage at the Warriors practice facility — and he wouldn’t be an NBA champion.
“One thing she is always telling me — she still tells me today — ‘Men that don’t work, don’t eat,’” Green said. “Whatever that work is that you’ve got to get out there do in order to eat, do it. And that’s what has fueled me. That’s what has pushed me this far, to get here. Work. If you work, you can eat.”
For Babers-Green, that expression is more than just a motivational ploy — it’s the motto of her life. She freely expresses her feelings on her famous Twitter feed, but Thursday was more about family pride than social-media gumption.
“If you don’t work, you don’t eat. That’s a simple principle,” she said. “If I go to my job and don’t work, I’m going to get fired — chances are. I’m going to get demoted — chances are. Something will happen where I won’t be able to eat.”
“I told him do you want to eat chicken or do you want to eat steak? Do you want to eat steak or caviar? What is it that you want? You’ll be able to do it if you work hard. And he showed it.”
Her son has taken that advice to heart. An undersized big man at 6-7, Green relishes the challenge of battling against physically superior players on a nightly basis.
“One thing I go by is you may be bigger than me, you may be stronger, you may even be faster, you can probably jump a little bit higher than me, but you’re not going to outwork me,” Green said. “And that’s my mindset that I go in mentally with every game.”
It’s that relentless drive to outwork the opposition that made paying Green a mint such a no-brainer for general manager Bob Myers. As the executive explained, one of his favorite memories of Green came last December when the ironman insisted on staying in a game after injuring his hand — even before the X-ray results had come back.
“I said, ‘Well, hopefully everything is OK,’” Myers recalled. “And he looks at me and says, ‘Well, I’m playing no matter what. I’m not going out of the game.’ And I said, ‘What if you hand’s broken?’ And he said, ‘It doesn’t matter. I’m going back in the game.’ So, small thing, but huge thing. That’s why you pay guys.”
During the news conference, Green explained that the feeling of landing his new contract couldn’t compare to the sensation of winning the NBA title. With Myers at his side, Green joked that money was no object to him.
“At the end of the day, you could tell, Bob, you could tell him now because I signed the deal, that I’d play for free,” Green said.
The Warriors were also willing to pay the defensive standout because Green has an uncanny knack for winning.
“Draymond, through his entire life, wherever it’s taken him, whatever situation he’s been confronted by, he’s won. It doesn’t matter where he was or what position he plays, his teams won,” Myers said of the player he selected 35th in the 2012 draft. “And that’s not a coincidence. And so, we want to have as many of those guys as we can. If we can find those guys and keep them in our organization, and put them in an environment to succeed, then we’re going to be fine.”
Thanks to the work and advice of his mother, Green is going to be fine too. As Babers-Green explained, it was overwhelming to have a front-row view as her son inked his new mega-deal.
“I was just sitting there and I started to cry,” Babers-Green said. “I just had a bunch of emotions. ‘Wow, it’s really my son up there.’ It was more so when I was upstairs and he was actually signing the contract and I’m looking at the numbers and I’m like, this is unbelievable. It’s really life-changing. I’m just happy for him.”Bob MyersDraymond GreenGolden State WarriorsMary Babers-GreenNBA