Draymond Green, the emotional and spiritual leader of the Golden State Warriors, may find himself in a hotel room watching his team compete in a pivotal game four in Oklahoma City when the Thunder try to control the series against the defending NBA champions and go up 3-1. If Green is suspended- the consensus is split, maybe yes, maybe no- then the Warriors will be without their best passer, trash talker, rebounder, inside-outside scorer, defender and motivator. He can’t be replaced and because he can’t be replaced it makes Green’s behavior in these WCF as they relate to Thunder center Steven Adams, the more senseless. It is Green and the Warriors that have everything to lose. Why tempt fate?
It is Steven Adams and not Draymond Green who has a reputation among NBA players as one who crosses the line with his pulls and grabs and shoves and hits. In a reversal of fortune, Green has elevated Adams to victim status. Adams, the New Zealand native, plays hard and aggressive. Green, the Saginaw, Michigan native, plays hard and aggressive. But two kicks to the groin and a Green climb on Adams back seems to indicate this isn’t just an incidental one time basketball play.
Green, a hyperactive player fueled by emotion, competitiveness and swag can go too far on occasion and he succumbs to his emotions when maturity demands he control his impulses.
In Game 3 in Oklahoma City, that emotion can be interpreted two different ways, depending on your prism. Either it was a deliberate kick to Steven Adams groin. Or it was incidental contact. Green was issued a Flagrant 1 foul. It is up for review, the scope of the punishment, with a suspension a strong possibility.
To no one’s shock, Steve Kerr didn’t think much of the foul call while Russell Westbrook thought Green did it on purpose which leads us to something else. Is Draymond Green building a reputation in the negative like Steven Adams?
Adams had his share of fallout this series when comparing the speedy Warriors to “monkeys”. The label of monkeys has a long and tortured racial history and triggers deep emotions that can’t be placated. Beginning in the 1800’s, referring to black men as monkeys was an en vogue way to defend slavery. It couldn’t be slavery, the argument went, because black men were not human, they were monkeys. Slavery, therefore, was not a moral crime. If anything, it was abuse against animals.
Adams stirred a lot of things up with his comment but because he is not American born and has been in this country less than five years, he was given a pass after his apology. Incidentally, that is when all the Green incidents started, either by coincidence or on purpose.
In addition to the accidental or on-purpose groin kick, Green had a brutal night in OKC. He missed 8 out of 9 shots, he had 4 rebounds. His one offensive rebound was glaring because the Warriors missed 54 shots. He had four turnovers. His plus minus was -43. He had zero impact on the game.
Except for that groin kick which seemed to jump start the Thunder.
All that remains to be seen is if the league will come down hard. Either way, the verdict will be seen through the prism of politics. If Green is suspended, Warriors fans will throw out the conspiracy theory and how no one wants the Warriors to win even as the league is Warriors titled.
If Green isn’t suspended, Thunder fans will cry that this is all a Steph coronation and the league won’t do anything to punish the glamour team that makes them huge dough and is so popular. The league cannot win with its verdict.
Without Draymond Green on Tuesday night, neither can the Warriors.
photo via llananba