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Draymond Green Finals diary, Part 24

‘This ain’t the last of us.’

Draymond Green has evolved into one of the most interesting personalities in the NBA, and perhaps all of sports — the vocal leader and emotional engine for one of the most compelling NBA teams in recent memory.

Green agreed to give The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears an exclusive look into his life on and off the court, via a playoff diary that Green hoped would end with a second straight NBA championship for the Golden State Warriors. This is the final edition of the diary.

Draymond Green Diary #24 – Final edition

The Golden State Warriors lost 93-89 to the now 2016 NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in a deciding Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night. Green scored a game-high 32 points, nailed six of eight 3-pointer attempts, grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and dished a team-high nine assists in a team-high 46 minutes. NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined to score 53 points for the Cavaliers. Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively. After departing quickly to the locker room after the loss, Green eventually returned back to the floor to congratulate James and the Cavaliers, who defeated the Warriors in three straight games after being down 3-1 in the series. The 2016 Western Conference champion Warriors won an NBA-record 73 regular-season games.

I don’t know what was going in my mind when the buzzer sounded. It was all over the place. Disbelief. Hurt. It happens. It happens to the best of them. It’s about what you do after …

“[The locker room] was stunned. Guys were looking down, [angry]. But guys were uplifting, too. This ain’t the last of us. This is just a bump in the road …

“I will always think about [this loss] because I hate losing. Congratulations. They made the plays they needed to make. We didn’t.

“It means a lot to get respect [for my performance], but the thing I am about is winning championships and we failed to do that. You take everything with grain with a salt. It’s bittersweet just to get the respect, obviously. You have to congratulate them on a great year. The odds were against them. They battled. Brought it back. Took the series …

“My [performance] doesn’t matter. I’m not a guy who is about individual performances. I’d feel good about it if we won. Obviously, I didn’t do enough.

“When [Irving] hit the three [with 53 seconds left, giving Cleveland a 92-89 lead], I still thought we had a chance. But once we didn’t score and they got the rebound, it’s kind of like, ‘All right, it’s slipping. Maybe we can come up with a stop.’ We just didn’t do it.”

Green was suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals after being assessed a flagrant foul 1 for hitting James in the groin in Game 4 after the latter stepped over him. The NBA All-Star’s flagrant foul 1 triggered an automatic suspension after reaching three flagrant foul points. Sans Green, the host Warriors lost Game 5 to the Cavaliers 112-97.

“I learned a lot about myself as a man. I got to control my emotions. I will always control my emotions now. There is a silver lining in between everything. I’m not a guy that takes moral victories, but I did learn from that. I learned that I can’t put myself in harm’s way and that’s in anything. That’s in basketball. That’s in life. You can’t put yourself in that position.

“I think it will make me a much better player. I will have the same fire. I had my fire tonight, but it was controlled. It will make it a lot better …

“Everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure what that reason is right now. I know that I’ve learned from [the suspension]. I know it will make me better down the line. But there is still more to it. It will eventually come to me, but I don’t have the answer right now. But the one thing I do know is I’ve learned from it. And if you can learn from something in life, it can go a long way.

“I just knew that going to the locker room after the game wasn’t right. That’s what a loser does. I’m not a loser. They earned it. They took it from us. It’s right to tell them congratulations. I made sure I got to everybody. The coaching staff. The players. Security guys. Everybody. They earned it. They never quit. I just wanted to make sure I got to everybody.

“I just told [James] congrats and mad respect. Stuff happens on the basketball court. But I have respect. That will never change … I have a lot of respect for LeBron going back there [to Cleveland] and bringing them their first championship. It’s bigger than just this championship for them. That city. That state. It’s been a long time. He went back there and did it. He was supposed to do it for 13 years and he didn’t give up on it. He got it done. Much respect. He put the team on his back and never let him die.

“I’m proud of our season. I think we had a phenomenal season. I just think we failed to reach our main goal. It happens, but it was a tremendous season. We failed to reach our ultimate goal, but that doesn’t make everything else a failure …

“This season was amazing to do the things that we have done with these guys. The memories that we will have forever, those things will never go away. You take the good with the bad.

“It feels great to put myself in that [NBA star] position. The hard part is ahead. Staying there. I’m not a one-hit-wonder-type of guy. The work is just beginning.”

This article has been corrected to reflect that Green’s assist total was the highest on the Warriors. LeBron James had the most for the game with 11.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.