In shocking but not-so-shocking news this afternoon, the NBA has decided not to suspend Draymond Green for his wind-up nut shot on Oklahoma City center Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. When the foul originally occurred, the refs were given another opportunity to review the call, but still decided to give Green only a flagrant foul 1. This allowed Green to stay in the game, and gave the Warriors a better shot to come back and win the game.
When deciding if a foul is a suspendible offense, the intent of the fouling player is always the first thing considered. Although it is painfully obvious that Green intentionally kicked Adams in the groin, intent is almost impossible to prove in this situation. However, intent is not the only thing that should dictate if a player should be suspended or not. Even if the kick somehow was not intentional, the fact that Green flailed out causing the incident to happen makes it a dangerous play anyway. The outlandish flopping motion, coupled with the fact that he “accidentally” booted Adams square in the crown jewels, should be at least enough to suspend Green for a game, if not two.
It goes without saying, but the NBA knows exactly what they are doing by not suspending Green. With the Warriors down 2-1 in a best of 7 series, they are now in an unfavorable position that nobody, including the NBA, thought they would be in, With the blowout win in Game 3, the Thunder now have momentum on their side going into a crucial Game 4 on Tuesday. If Green were to have been suspended for Game 4, the Thunder would have a much better chance to win the game and take a 3-1 series lead. This would put them in a great position to reach the NBA Finals, something the NBA probably doesn’t want to happen.
Though they’ll never admit it, the NBA would like to see a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors are the apple of the NBA’s eye due to their record setting season and wild popularity among the casual fan. The league thinks that having Golden State in the final would most likely lead to higher revenues and viewership among these casual fans. I understand that it is the NBA’s job to try and grow the game, but they need to be more objective about these kind of decisions. The decision not to suspend Green gives the Warriors a much better chance to win Game 4 and stay in the series.
It feels like the NBA is trying to make up for not suspending Green by instead fining him a lofty $25,000 and upgrading the foul to a flagrant 2. But if the foul is that bad that you need to fine him that much and upgrade the foul to a flagrant 2, shouldn’t Green be suspended anyway? A flagrant 2 foul called during a game means the player who committed the foul is immediately ejected from the game. If the NBA is now saying that the foul should have been called a flagrant 2, this means Green should have been ejected from the game. This begs another question, why isn’t Green being suspended for the upcoming game if the NBA is now admitting he should have been kicked out of Game 3?
Unfortunately, the decision to suspend a player sometimes hinges on the circumstances of the game in that moment, or even the player who actually commits the foul. The irony in all this is that the night before the Draymond Green incident, Cleveland Cavaliers bench scrub Dahnty Jones smacked Toronto Raptors center Bismarck Biyombo in the exact same spot as Green did Steven Adams in the waning seconds of the game.
Jones barely gets any playing time for the Cavs because he is honestly one of the worst players in the league, but he was still suspended one game and fined $80 for the foul (which LeBron is paying for him). This makes me wonder why Green wasn’t suspended as well. The plays were pretty similar in intent and outcome. Jones was suspended, Green wasn’t. How does this make sense? Well, I for one have no idea. You’ll have to ask the NBA for an explanation on that one.
It must be said that the NBA, as well as the referees who officiate the games, have been wildly inconsistent in their foul calls and rulings this postseason. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a ref miss an obvious call or call a foul on a play where there is no contact at all. Flopping has become an epidemic in the league, and now the NBA is saying Green flopped and hit Adams by accident, using it as justification to let Green play in Game 4. Let’s hope we see better officiating in the rest of the playoffs so we don’t have another controversy like this again.