Draymond Green picked up his 11th technical foul of the season during Saturday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers, bringing him within five techs of an automatic one-game suspension. Afterward, he told Anthony Slater of The Athletic that the current state of NBA officiating is “ruining the game”:
“It’s bad,” Green told The Athletic. “It’s horrible. It’s really bad. I don’t know why it is. But I think it’s ridiculous. It’s ruining the game. … It should be one of, if not the main priority, to be solved. It definitely should.”
Green has grown so frustrated with the situation that, when asked for a possible solution, he threw out a radical idea.
“They can get a new crop (of referees), a whole new crop,” Green said. “Too many personal things going on. Too much me against you. It just don’t work that way.”
Green has had some notable and vaguely iffy confrontations with refs this season, some of which are highlighted in detail in Slater’s story (you’ll have to get through a paywall to view them, sorry). But the most interesting part of this is Green’s explicitly stated belief that NBA referees are using the whistle to punish players with whom they have personal grudges, telling Slater that “a lot of it is personal,” and that players “can’t overcome” circumstances where individual referees “make it me against you.”
You don’t have to be a biased referee or observer to notice that Green is one of the most physically reckless and demonstrative players in the NBA, and that there are probably two or three referee interactions per game where he could reasonably be whistled for a tech, but is not. His intensity is a huge asset for his team, in no small part because he is often dialed to a level of intensity that makes other players on the court look like librarians. It gives him an edge over those players, but it also is something that NBA referees are specifically tasked with managing. The technical foul is there to address instances where competitive intensity boils over.
On the other hand, NBA officiating is notoriously spotty, and I have no trouble believing there are refs who officiate players differently based upon personal history and general distaste. Friction between players and refs does seem to be reaching a boiling point. On another, third hand, I have a very hard time believing an entirely new crop of replacement officials would lead to a better product—the NFL tried that, and it was a fucking catastrophe.