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Draymond Green apologizes for punching Jordan Poole, will remain away

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, seen posing for a photograph during media day Sept. 25, apologized Saturday for punching teammate Jordan Poole. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP)

Draymond Green apologized and said he would remain away from the Golden State Warriors for a “few days” after video of the all-star forward punching teammate Jordan Poole during practice became public Friday.

The Warriors have yet to publicly punish Green, by suspension or fine, for his role in the altercation, which occurred Wednesday, but Green said he would spend an indefinite amount of time away to give his teammates a chance to “heal” and give himself an opportunity to refocus.

“I failed as a leader,” Green said at a news conference Saturday, calling the punch a “huge mistake” while apologizing to the Warriors organization, his teammates and Poole’s family. “I failed as a man.”

Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that Green’s separation from the team was a “mutual decision” between the organization and player and there was “no set date” for a return. Green’s status for Golden State’s season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 18, when the reigning champions will receive their rings, therefore remains uncertain.

In the video footage, which was first published by TMZ without accompanying audio, Green walked over to the baseline where Poole was standing until the two were face-to-face. Poole then shoved Green with two hands before Green punched Poole with enough force that Poole’s head was thrown back as others rush over to the pair.

The fight between Green and Poole was first reported Wednesday, and the Warriors didn’t immediately discipline Green, instead treating the incident as an internal matter.

Warriors General Manager Bob Myers told reporters Thursday that Green had apologized to the team for the altercation, left the training facility and was not expected back until Saturday. Myers initially said he did not expect Green to be suspended or miss any games as a result, and Poole, who was not injured by the blow, returned to practice Thursday. That decision drew scrutiny once video of the incident leaked Friday.

Green said he was in “a very, very, very bad space mentally” and that he was “dealing with some things in my personal life” that possibly contributed to his shortened temper and reaction. Acknowledging his history of emotional outbursts, Green said he is a “flawed person” and a “constant work in progress,” and he still has “a very long way to go.”

“Hurt people hurt people,” he said. “I hurt someone because I was in a place of hurt.”

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The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year also expressed frustration and embarrassment that the footage had leaked, and he thanked the Warriors for conducting an investigation to determine who was responsible. Green said he watched the video at least 15 times, concluding his actions “look even worse than I thought” and were “pathetic.”

“I thought [the leak] was bulls---,” Green said. “No other video leaks from practice. When we’re working on our sets, they don’t leak. When I’m coaching everyone up, that doesn’t leak.”

Multiple Warriors quickly came to Poole’s defense following a Yahoo report that there had been a “change in Poole’s behavior” during training camp with the possibility of a lucrative contract extension looming. Forward Andre Iguodala called him a “great character kid” and said Green’s behavior was “family business.” Warriors star Stephen Curry said the assertion was “absolute B.S.”

“There’s nothing that warranted the situation,” Curry said Thursday. “I want to make that clear. It’s also something we feel like won’t derail our season, what we’re trying to build, and that’s with Draymond a part of that.”

Kerr said Poole has been “fantastic throughout camp,” and the coach shot down concerns about the guard’s attitude.

A four-time all-star and seven-time all-defensive team member, Green has been involved in several combative incidents in his career. During a profane 2016 halftime outburst directed at Kerr, Green reportedly shouted “I am not a robot!” so loudly that he could be heard by a reporter standing outside the visiting locker room in Oklahoma City. In 2018, the Warriors suspended Green for one game for his role in an in-game argument with teammate Kevin Durant, a disagreement that preceded Durant’s 2019 departure for the Brooklyn Nets.

Green was suspended by the NBA after delivering a low blow to LeBron James during the 2016 Finals and exceeding the limit for flagrant foul points in the playoffs, an absence he later admitted cost the Warriors the 2016 title. He was also ejected from a second-round playoff game against the Memphis Grizzlies in May for a flagrant foul.

While under contract through the 2023-24 season, Green was eligible for an extension this offseason, but he said last month he didn’t expect to consummate a deal before the start of the season.

Poole, 23, enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2021-22, averaging a career-high 18.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his third season. Regarded as an early favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year award, Poole’s next contract could be similar in size to the four-year, $130 million extension recently signed by Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro.

Green said he hasn’t met with Poole since the incident, but he was adamant that the parallel contract negotiations were not a motivating factor for his punch.

“I can assure you I don’t count other people’s pockets,” he said. “That’s not something I would ever start doing. The way I was raised, that’s simply hating on another man’s situation.”

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