The Legacy of Draymond Green
By Geoff Preston
The feeling that settled over the Breslin on Sunday night felt wrong. It wasn’t that the result was an upset. Ohio State has one of the more talented starting fives in the country, and the shot that William Buford hit over Keith Appling was about as well defended as it could have been. Ohio State deserved to win the game. The problem is that this night wasn’t supposed to be about the Ohio State Buckeyes. It wasn’t even supposed to be about the Michigan State Spartans. This night was supposed to be about one man: Draymond Green.
We had seen articles and TV pieces all week about Green’s love affair with the University and the Universities’ love affair with Green. It has been said over and over again that Green is the definition of a Spartan. It almost sounds cliché at this point to say it, but it’s true. Green has put up some great statistics during his time in East Lansing, but his value to the program revolved around his role as a player-coach. The word “leadership” has been re-defined by Day-Day in his time as a Spartan, and it is safe to say that this pre-season proclaimed “rebuilding year” would be just that if it weren’t for Draymond Green.
That is why it just didn’t feel right to see Ohio State players in their scarlet and gray uniforms celebrating on the court where Draymond Green and his senior teammates have given us so many great memories. The Buckeyes have sent Day-Day out as the only thing that he wasn’t as a Spartan: a loser. Then, as the camera turned towards the line of players shaking hands, an even more perplexing image filled my TV screen. After giving his heart and soul for four years only to lose in his final game at the Breslin Center, Draymond Green was… smiling? Not only was he smiling, but he was smiling the only way he knew how: with a wide, face encompassing grin that could light up any room. How could Day-Day be so cheerful? A heartbreaking loss in his final home game? Any sane person would lose it.
But Draymond Green wasn’t, and I believe that moment in time, that one smile in the midst of shaking hands with a bitter rival, is a perfect snapshot of the legacy Draymond Green leaves at Michigan State. This reaction could be misinterpreted as lazie-faire but anyone who knows Draymond Green knows that winning is about all that is important to him. I believe that the reason we saw him flash the grin he did is because this game did not mean the same thing to Draymond that it did to us fans. To us, it was our last chance to thank him for his service to Michigan State and to see him end his Breslin career with a win. To Green, it was an important game against a rival for a chance to win the Big Ten outright. Notice how none of those things pertained individually to Draymond Green. We were all disappointed because it didn’t feel right to send one player out with a loss, but that one player has bigger goals than a senior day victory. As a true disciple of Tom Izzo, Draymond Green is thinking about March, and not the fourth day of March, more like the fourth week.
So maybe the smile that adorned Draymond Green’s face shouldn’t have seemed so foreign. After all, we have all come to know Green by his positive, glass half full demeanor. While the fans were thinking of a senior day opportunity lost, he was thinking of the March opportunities that lay ahead. If you had this squad behind you, you’d probably be smiling to.