You could look at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s destruction of the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals as a turning point in the series—KD and Russ are hot! The role players are contributing! Serge Ibaka may not suck anymore!—but what may very well end up deciding who advances to the finals is Steven Adams’s poor nutsack.
For the second time in two games, Adams caught a Draymond Green kick with his dick and balls. This kick seemed to do a bit more damage than the first one, and the question of intent was enough to send the referees into a huddle around the video monitor, where they eventually decided to hit Green with a Flagrant 1.
The league office reserves the right to review all flagrant fouls after the game, at which point they can reclassify the foul, or impose a fine or suspension on the offending player. In a vacuum, the latter scenario coming to pass would seem like a long shot, except for the fact that the NBA just suspended Cavaliers gadfly Dahntay Jones one game for doing this:
It’s hard to find a meaningful difference between what Jones and Green did. Both were in the process of making a routine basketball play before swinging a limb in a way that could most generously be described as “peculiar.” If the league believes that Jones whipping his arm into Bismack Biyombo’s dong was clearly intentional, then it’s hard to see how they can decide that a crane kick is just a natural part of Draymond Green’s shooting motion.
After the game, Green explained away the kick rather unconvincingly, telling reporters, “I brought the ball over the top this way, he fouled me, and my leg went up. I know my core’s not strong enough to stop my leg halfway from wherever it’s going.” Both he and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that the flagrant foul should be rescinded by the league office.
Nobody wants to see a playoff series between the two most entertaining teams in the league undermined by a mid-series suspension, and the howling from basketball fans may never stop if the Thunder beat a Draymond-less Warriors team in Game 4 and go on the win the whole series. But there’s no way for the league to look like it isn’t playing favorites if Jones gets a suspension and Green doesn’t. If Green plays in Game 4 and the Warriors eventually take the series, the “This league is fixed!” shouts may never stop coming from Oklahoma City.
Whatever the league’s decision is, it will certainly make a lot of people very angry, and could very well alter the course of NBA history. Either way, there’s a case to be made for Steven Adams’s ball bag being a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.