The NBA didn’t let Draymond Green off the hook. Many Golden State Warriors fans – and even neutral observers – expected Green to get off with a slap on the wrist for his altercation with Domantas Sabonis in Game 2.
However, the NBA dropped the hammer in the form of a suspension on Draymond, leaving him out of commission for a pivotal Game 3 in the Kings-Warriors series.
With Golden State facing an 0-2 hole, it’s hard for fans not to be upset about the league penalizing Green to such a degree. But take away the stakes surrounding the suspension with Game 3 basically turning into a win-or-go-home situation for the defending champions, the suspension isn’t as outlandish as the angry NBA Twitter mob (and Damian Lillard) is making it out to be.
Many pointed to the suspension – and even the flagrant 2 call that triggered it – being overblown in part due to Draymond Green’s reputation as a rather controversial figure on the court. After all, his suspension in the 2016 NBA Finals was perhaps the most consequential postseason suspension of all time.
The NBA wasn’t pretending that didn’t play a role. On the contrary, the statement released by the NBA cited the Warriors forward’s “history of unsportsmanlike acts” as a key factor in the decision.
The following was released by the NBA. pic.twitter.com/KEnWx2qTvs
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 19, 2023
In a vacuum, the play could potentially be defensible. Domantas Sabonis did indeed grab Draymond’s ankle first, which prompted him to either – depending who you ask – lose balance and inadvertently land on the Kings big man or purposely retaliate and stomp on him for literally pulling his leg. Watching the play from different angles and at different speeds could alter how one paints the picture of what really happened.
However, Draymond Green has gotten himself in similar situations way, way too many times in the past and in pivotal games to boot. The “history” angle isn’t the NBA simply labeling him a dirty player and henceforth worthy of punishment but rather representing the proverbial camel’s back needing just one more straw to break it.
It didn’t help that he goaded the crowd after the ensuing play, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in attendance to boot.
I’m pretty sure a big factor in the decision to suspend Draymond was his behavior immediately after he stomped on Sabonis. pic.twitter.com/dEz7tcQJ4h
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 19, 2023
The reality of it is that there’s a reason he has that reputation in the first place. Green gets under opponents’ skin, in part through these little entanglements, among a dozen other ways. It’s part of what makes him such a difference-maker on defense. He gets physical, grimy, down and dirty with opposing players whenever possible.
The Warriors have benefitted from his game-altering physicality and ability to impose his will on the defensive end time and time again. It occasionally puts him in situations such as the one on Monday night, which manifested in a worst-case scenario for Golden State.
r/NBA made a compilation of Draymond Green’s antics over the years lmao pic.twitter.com/i9sZCP1XQd
— x – Alex (@Dubs408) April 18, 2023
Sabonis played dirty, yes. But he was taking a page right out of Draymond Green’s playbook. If anyone ought to respect the hustle, it’s him.
Draymond has dozens of articles over the years documenting his dirty antics. There are video compilations just like the one above immortalizing them too. Just like this one play, looking at each individually might be ambiguous in terms of being dirty or not. But the sheer number of times it has happened has clearly had the NBA’s attention for a while now. They weren’t sitting back this time around.
If anything, he can’t put himself in that situation. Argue all you want about whose fault it is or whether Draymond Green deserved the suspension or not, but these situations have been par for the course for him throughout his career.
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