Can you go too far as a teammate?

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

Whether you are the last player on the bench or the chosen leader of the team, there is a fine line between motivation and bullying. There is a time and place to fight with teammates, but once a line is crossed, there may be no going back. On Oct. 5, Golden State Warriors All-Star veteran forward Draymond Green punched 23-year-old Jordan Poole in the face. 

In the video, Green is trash-talking Poole. Green moves closer to Poole, then knocks Poole out after being shoved. Of course, the situation is not optimal. Green was temporarily suspended from the team and has since apologized for the situation; however, a situation like this is nearly impossible to come back from and was clearly not intended to be motivational. Coaches, retired players and other “old heads” always bring up Michael Jordan punching teammate Steve Kerr in the face during practice with the Chicago Bulls back in the 1995 season. Kerr — coincidently, the present-day head coach of the Warriors — says that fight resulted in the two being “closer” and even gave Jordan more trust in Kerr for a moment when needed. Not only is the Green situation different, but it is also worse.

For starters, Green is for sure a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Green has contributed to four championships for the Warriors, making four All-Star teams, two Olympic teams and winning defensive player of the year. With all that said, he is not close to Jordan when it comes to all-time status. Though this is not a “who is better” discussion, the widely considered greatest basketball player of all time gets a pass. Secondly, there is video proof of Green hitting Poole, which also went viral on social media, and the fight itself seemed to have started out of nothing. Kerr admitted to talking trash to Jordan, but Green clearly just snapped at Poole and decided to bully him instead. Green also has a history of trash talking to other National Basketball Association players and getting suspended/ejected from games for his un-sportsman like behavior. Compared to Jordan, Green could not match up with his on-the-court and off-the-court reputation. 

Even if you remove the name off the back of the jersey, there is little reason to punch anyone, let alone a teammate. Unless Poole said something about a family member or some sort of slur to Green, there is no excuse to treat a teammate like that. Because nothing has been said and Green apologized for the way he acted, there is no reason to believe Poole did anything out-of-line. There are plenty of leaders in sports, such as Udonis Haslem for the Miami Heat or Tom Brady for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who visually yell at teammates and can be seen as the top leader. There have never been cases of them punching teammates. Green is indeed the top leader on the Warriors; however, he is 32 years old and not nearly as statistically productive. Poole, and multiple other teammates, are young and due for contract extensions, foreshadowing Green being the odd man out. 

Whether you are an athlete, a grocery clerk, a teacher or friend, if a co-worker calls you a slur or full-swing knocks you out, there is no going back. Going back to work will be tough, and respect will be gone. There is no value in belittling someone or physically assaulting them to make yourself seem superior, and old veteran Green did just that to new-face Poole.