- USA forward Draymond Green apologizes to his teammates and hopes they can move forward without it being too much of a distraction
LAS VEGAS — When USA Basketball’s minicamp opened to the media on Monday, Draymond Green’s voice could be heard shouting encouragement and defensive instructions during scrimmage play. One day earlier, though, Green had a different message for his new teammates: sorry.
Green, who will compete in his first Olympics in Rio next month, issued an apology to his teammates for his arrest on assault charges in East Lansing, Mich., last week.
“When we met [Sunday], we gave him a chance to address the team,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told SI.com. “Basically, he said he wanted to apologize for what happened.
“We were talking about the things that are important to us as a team, that are really strong principles, and being able to maintain your composure is one of them. He knows that’s not what happened and what should have happened. He had a chance to share with the players.”
USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said Green will avoid punishment for his July 10 arrest.
“No, no, we’ve already hung him by the thumbs last night for two hours,” Krzyzewski joked. “It shouldn’t have happened. … It’s unfortunate it occurred. Hopefully it will get resolution. He apologized to the team last night and then we [moved] forward.”
Krzyzewski added that he views Green as a player with “great leadership potential [and] great versatility.”
Green, 26, was arrested following a fight with Jermaine Edmondson, who at the time was a member of Michigan State’s football team. Green spent four years playing basketball at Michigan State.
The police report indicates Green and Edmondson had multiple confrontations over two days, with Edmonson alleging that he and his girlfriend were “choked” by Green’s friends and that he was “punched” in the jaw by Green. Although Edmondson was not seriously injured in the alleged altercation, he told police officers he suffered from a headache and a sore jaw and neck after the incident. Edmondson, a rising senior, has since requested and received a release from Michigan State so he can transfer to a different school.
While Green referred multiple questions about the incident to his attorneys, he said the incident and its aftermath served as a “big learning experience.”
“All you can do in life is learn and move on,” he said. “Don’t make the same mistakes twice. … As a public figure, as a guy who is representing this country, it’s bigger than me, it’s bigger than anybody on this team. That’s just the stuff we have to remember.”
Prior to the arrest, Green made headlines for a flagrant kick to Thunder center Steven Adams during the Western Conference finals and a low blow to Cavaliers forward LeBron James that drew a one-game suspension during the Finals.
Nevertheless, Green said he had no plans to change his approach.
“If you’re going to judge somebody for something off the basketball court, that’s your own personal business,” he said. “Being me has gotten me this far.”
Green, who had a blood alcohol level of 0.10 when he was arrested, was quickly released on $200 bond following the incident. His arraignment was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but ABC7News reported that he filed a “not guilty” plea and that a pretrial conference was set for Aug. 4. Green faces up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted on misdemeanor assault and battery charges.
USA Basketball is in the midst of a pre-Olympics training camp in Las Vegas before embarking on an exhibition tour later this month en route to Rio, where it will open Olympics play on Aug. 6.
“I have the opportunity to compete for a gold medal and you don’t let any type of distraction get in the way of that,” Green said. “It’s about going out and defending our country the right way. Everything else is secondary to that.”
Colangelo said he viewed Green’s arrest as a “non-issue” and added that Green deserves the “benefit of the doubt.” He added that USA Basketball welcomes Green’s enthusiasm and competitiveness, and that the apology to his teammates set a good tone for the team’s run to Rio.
“You have to put things in perspective regarding the incident and issue and treat it accordingly,” Colangelo said. “We’re trying to bond people here because we have a lot of new people. It’s not like this is the same 12 [players]. When a player is willing to say, ‘I made a mistake, I didn’t do what I should have done. I apologize for that.’ That helps bring people together.”