Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James have shared a long rivalry on the basketball court having faced each other in four consecutive NBA Finals between 2015 and 2018. The former came out on top having won three of them but Green holds James in high regard for everything he has done off the court more than on it.

James is a three-time NBA champion, a 15-time All-Star and a four-time regular season MVP all of which see him often regarded among the greatest to ever play the game. But Green mentions none of that while heaping praise on his long-time on-court rival. The 2019 free agency saw a number of top players switch teams with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant joining Brooklyn Nets while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined Los Angeles Clippers.

Irving, Durant and Leonard were free agents when they made the switch but the likes of George, Anthony Davis, who joined the Lakers and Russell Westbrook were all traded by their former employers but landed with contenders. Green believes James’ decisions during his career that saw him leave his hometown team – Cleveland Cavaliers – and join Miami Heat in 2010 which put his desire to win over loyalty to his hometown franchise has empowered players.

LeBron James
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands for the national anthem prior to the game against the Washington Wizards at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 26, 2019. Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

“It has a lot of people talking and obviously that’s huge and a large credit to LeBron James. You know, with what he’s done in his career that’s kind of shown everybody else the power that you have as a player. And that’s why you saw the movement this year is because the athlete, the basketball players have taken control of their own future,” Green said during a recent interview on CNBC TV, as quoted on LeBron Wire USA Today.

“We’ve taken control of our destiny. I think a lot of people hate that. But everybody celebrates LeBron for his basketball career and the things he’s been able to accomplish. I think the doors he’s opened for athletes and especially basketball players is his biggest accomplishment,” the Warriors forward added.

James is currently with the Lakers for whom he again signed in free agency last summer. The three-time champion’s first season was blighted by injury while he also missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign. He has made it clear that he wants to win his fourth title in purple and gold and he now has one of the league’s best players in Davis alongside him.