Splitting Hairs

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In Defense of Ethan Strauss


Alternate title: “Draymond and Trump: Separated at Birth?”

Alternate title 2: “Poking the Eight”

Ethan Strauss of ESPN published an article today entitled: “Golden State’s Draymond Green problem“. It’s a story about a young passionate basketball player who is so talented that he simultaneously serves his team as the key to victory and the lynchpin of defeat — with his passion serving as the fuel for both results.

Strauss has been excoriated in the basketball community for his article. Green is well-loved by his organization, by his team’s fans, and even by basketball fans generally. For Strauss’s piece to say that Green’s passion can destroy everything infuriates them. See, e.g., “Draymond Green: Passionate or problematic?“.

I see it differently. In fact, I see a parallel between Draymond Green and Donald Trump. Kind of amazing given that Trump is a 70-year-old born-rich white racist and Green is a 26-year-old born-poor black man.

But hear me out.

I believe that both Trump and Green are Enneagram “Eights”. The Eight is the “bully” of this personality theory. The Eight is a person who uses his force of personality, and the high energy behind it, to succeed in life. (Core desire: strength; core fear: weakness).

For all of their power and energy, Eights are vulnerable to clever opponents who use the passion of the Eight against himself.

Two public moments are joined in my mind:

  1. When LeBron James stepped over Green (who was lying on the floor) in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last June.
  2. When, in the first presidential debate a couple of weeks ago, Hilary started poking Trump about whether his claim to wealth was real.

I watched both of these moments in real time on television (as did millions of others).

Here is what I saw: I saw clever opponents understanding exactly how to enrage their targets, understanding that triggering this rage would redound to their own benefit.

So, in Game 4, I think LeBron intentionally stepped over Green in a provocative way precisely to draw out the response he got. The response was Green, lying prone on the floor, taking a swipe at LeBron’s genitals.

Because of this act, the league suspended Green for Game 5, and Green’s team lost that game. Momentum had switched, and Green’s team ultimately ended up losing the series.

To many who watched the NBA finals, that transaction toward the end of Game 4 between LeBron and Green was the turning point in the series leading ultimately to the defeat of Green’s team.

Now to Trump. At the time of the first debate, Trump and Clinton were tied in the polls. So the first debate was an epic television event.

Seemed clear to me that if Trump could go through the debate looking “presidential” — treating Clinton with respect while criticizing her policies and ethics — he just might win the whole damn thing.

But he didn’t do that. Instead, around minute 20 of the debate, Hilary questioned whether Trump was really as rich as he claimed. I suspect Democrat operatives planted this question during Hilary’s debate prep.

The question was like waving a red flag at a raging bull. Trump took the bait, and couldn’t stop interrupting Clinton thereafter.

Within a week of the first debate, Clinton had pulled ahead in the polls by 5-7 points. The election was over right then and there at minute 20 of the first debate.

Back to Strauss. He is pointing out that if Green doesn’t acquire some degree of self-awareness soon, then he will be subject to LeBron-like “pokes” that could derail him and his team at the critical moments.

Now back to Trump. Trump is 70. He ain’t changing.

I’m optimistic, however, about the 26-year-old Draymond Green.

I’ve previously written about how the pressures of big-money sports can force these young men to “grow up” early.

For the rest of us, it’s usually in our 40s before we start to grow out of our Enneagram type (if at all) due to the pressures of life (intimates dying, raising children, stresses of marriage, financial pressures, and/or body starting to fail, etc.).

With athletes like Green and LeBron, however, the acute demands of winning can cause these young men to grow up early.

I hope Strauss’ piece will ultimately help Green along this path of personal growth. (i.e. live his life the way he played Game 7).

One comment on “In Defense of Ethan Strauss

  1. Kathy Graham
    October 26, 2016

    I’ve always liked Draymond, even if he is a bit immature. But comparing him to Trump? That is a very, very low blow. It’s clear that Draymond cares about people. Trump cares solely about himself. That’s a HUGE difference, regardless on how eights are “poked”.


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This entry was posted on October 19, 2016 by in Personality and the Brain, politics, sports.



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