Draymond Green’s footprints being logged into the NBA’s evidence locker is the least surprising event on everyone’s playoff bingo card. The Golden State Warriors’ loyal foot soldier has accumulated a track record of highlight kicks longer than David Beckham while maintaining a permanent victim status in his own head. With 7:03 remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Green drove his right leg into the chest of Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis. The Kings forward’s status for Game 3 is up in the air due to a bruised sternum, but in the process, Green committed a cardinal basketball sin — he murdered Golden State’s momentum.
Not only was he assessed a flagrant 2, but Green’s ejection left the Warriors’ defense at a disadvantage. In the final seven minutes, Sacramento drowned Golden State under a 23-point scoring barrage and took a 2-0 series lead. Nearly 24 hours later, the league announced Green would be suspended for Game 3 on account of his “history of unsportsmanlike acts.”
Per usual, Green has deflected any blame, but let’s examine the situation reasonably. Context matters and Green’s legs are in an FBI database by this point. And yet, when asked at his presser, he defended his actions by telling the gathered media, “My leg got grabbed. Second time in two nights. Referees just watching.
“I gotta land my foot somewhere and I’m not the most flexible person, so it’s not stretching that far,” Green continued while pantomiming with his hands.
I almost audibly laughed at Green’s rationalization because he used to have the flexibility of a Radio City Rockette whenever opponents were in his vicinity. He blamed his 2016 kick to Steven Adams’ groin on non-existent kinesiology science. A few months prior to that, Green blasted then-Suns forward Marquese Chriss and damaged his finger. A few days before that, he displayed impressive limberness roundhousing James Harden in the head.
Watching Green blame inflexibility on his stomp is akin to an alcoholic raging about how they can quit anytime they like. It’s a farce. The Warriors’ Smash Brother has been in this predicament fairly recently. This was worse than him raking Brandon Clarke across the face, gripping onto his jersey, stretching it out, and yanking him to the floor — all in one motion — in their semifinal matchup last postseason. For that egregious offense, Green was ejected and escaped suspension, but the league office isn’t populated by amnesiacs. He was given a pass for his most recent offense and learned nothing from it.
One step forward, two steps back
Green has been a vital piece of the Warriors dynasty in the same way that Bruce Banner has been a crucial Avenger. Sure they’ve both saved everyone’s butts from time to time with their unique combination of strength and IQ, but they can also go on rampages that decimate “The City.” Losing control and plunging into a self-destructive state when they get baited or begin seeing red is their toxic id emerging. You don’t wanna see the Green guy when either of them is angry.
I can understand Green being annoyed at Malik Monk grabbing his leg a game earlier, but players fall at other players’ feet all game long under the rim. Yet, Green is the only one consistently using his feet as weapons. The natural reaction by hoopers who get tangled up has always been to avoid injuring each other. Contact happens, but there’s a code. These are finely tuned athletes, not clumsy uncoordinated teenagers who can’t control their muscular system.
Sabonis was protecting his face and may or may not have hooked Green’s leg on purpose, but he also wasn’t in any impending danger that required him to make a “him or I decision” in that split second. Based on Green’s postgame comments, he was clearly holding resentment from a prior incident with Monk. It’s even tougher to exonerate Green when his leg’s forward momentum stops, and then gets directs straight downward with all his might. To exacerbate matters, Green then planted his foot down, placed his body weight on Sabonis, bounced off of him like a trampoline, and casually walked away without a hint of concern. The entire sequence appeared calculated. At times, Green can get more caught up in personal battles than in the grander scheme and ultimately that could cost Golden State.
Furthermore, the NBA has realized the dangers of blows to the chest in the last year. Just a few months ago, Damar Hamlin had to be revived on the field after suffering “commotio cordis” due to a legal helmet blow to the chest from Tee Higgins. The NBA has to nip this in the bud. Allowing the league’s recidivist kickboxer to get away with a stomp of this nature because he has better PR and more respect around the league than Grayson Allen would have been an invitation for him to go on another kicking spree like he did in 2016.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex