Sports

Draymond Green is the Pat McAfees of Charles Barkleys


Draymond Green is prepared for his post-playing career.

Draymond Green is prepared for his post-playing career.
Image: Getty Images

While he rehabs a disc injury, Draymond Green is a perpetual motion, content-churning machine. He’s been ubiquitous this season, from mounting a legit case for Defensive Player of the Year to the airwaves during All-Star Weekend to his burgeoning podcast. In September, Green launched a podcast on Colin Cowherd’s network, The Volume. This week, he was chopping it up with the previously tight-lipped Damian Lillard about CJ McCollum, Steph Curry’s superior career, and free agents coming to Portland. The only thing he hasn’t done during his media blitz is guest host The View.

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Green won’t stop blabbing about behind-the-scenes melodramas that took place within the Warriors’ locker room during their streak of five consecutive NBA Finals appearances. One day, there won’t be a need for a Last Dance-style doc because Dray’s spilled all the beans and shared every anecdote already.

Before the season, Green appeared on Carmelo Anthony’s podcast with Kevin Durant and casually burped up details behind the strained relationships and screw ups that took place during KD’s tenure. He also recently shared his theory behind Harrison Barnes not inviting him to his wedding because of the trade that followed the story of Green calling KD crying in his car. Barnes was traded to Dallas, bounced around a few mediocre teams, and became the forgotten band member of the early Warriors dynasty.

The list of retired NBA players thriving as podcasters, color commentators, radio hosts, and television analysts with varying degrees of success grows by the day. However, Green is a rising contender as the king of the NBA mountain.

What started as a few appearances on The Shop and podcasting venture on LeBron’s UNINTERRUPTED platform has grown immensely.

Green’s been a guest star on a few shows, but he’s now beginning to plant roots. He’sGreen’s been rumored as Charles Barkley’s Inside the NBA replacement-in-waiting for years now, but even that undervalues the Warriors forward’s trajectory. Barkley is two generations separated from Green, and he’s an analog Luddite who doesn’t tweet, podcast, or operate in the streaming content and digital ecosphere. Ironically, Barkley was the nitroglycerin that helped Green explode into a media talisman. The two used to go at it regularly after Barkley would badmouth him on Inside the NBA, it was hard to tell if the roast sessions were kayfabe or if those were actual fightin’ words.

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He’s talkative, impetuous, and unafraid to stir up beef with his peers, even as an active player without coming across as overly antagonistic, except for when the topic of Rudy Gobert materializes. Remember when Green verbally posterized Paul Pierce? That’s not to say all of his analysis has been the best. He’s gotten in hot water for takes about inequities in the WNBA and was fined $50,000 for tampering during his Inside the NBA debut, when he suggested Devin Booker couldn’t win with Phoenix.

While other injured stars throw themselves into rehab and value their time away from the media circus, Green has thrown on the makeup and thrust himself deeper into the preview of his NBA afterlife. Last month, Turner Sports essentially formalized Green’s Barkley-in-waiting status by announcing his exclusive, multi-year agreement. The arrangement cements Green’s appearances on “Inside the NBA” and various content initiatives, unique projections for Turner Sports and Bleacher Report portfolios.

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After making his relationship with TNT official, one of Green’s first assignments was to work as a sideline correspondent during the 2022 All-Star Weekend. And he killed.

Green’s rise is reminiscent of Pat McAfee’s rapid ascension as the NFL’s rebel media phenomenon. McAfee’s bombastic but gregarious style and his bonafides as an insider with connections to NFL stars have made him an organic hit.

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Green’s advantage over McAfee is that he is already embarking on his media career as a household name and is propping up his media career as the clapback king with Saginaw swagger. He’s accomplished enough as an athlete that other athletes respect him enough to talk to him, but not so much that it’s intimidating, and guests are in awe. JJ Redick’s buttoned-up podcast, ranked as one of the top 10 sports podcasts in the U.S, is dripping with Duke professionalism and bolstered by his ESPN presence. Nothing is stopping Green from reaching or surpassing Reddick’s influence.

Green will return to the Warriors’ lineup at some point in the next few weeks, and his defensive intensity is badly needed. One more title and Defensive Player of the Year award could cement the Hall of Fame case he’s fought to make as a single-digit scorer. But off the court, he’s got an equally bright future awaiting him.

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