It’s not about what was done, it’s about who did it. And if you don’t believe that, this week will be a sports debate-off on the events from the final day of the NBA’s regular season — which included Minnesota Timberwolves star center Rudy Gobert taking a swing at teammate Kyle Anderson on the bench during a timeout.
And since we’re supposedly a “fair” society, it means that Gobert should receive more backlash than Draymond Green did in the preseason after we watched him drop his teammate Jordan Poole with a punch in a leaked video from the Golden State Warriors practice facility.
The act was the same — a punch. The location was, too — a basketball court. In both cases, the “attacker” and the “victim” were teammates. However, one was behind closed doors before the season, making it private. The other was in the middle of a game before the postseason starts, making it public.
But, nobody is going to care about that.
Because for many — not all — it’s a lot easier to dislike Green than it is to get upset over something Gobert did, despite him once being the reason why the NBA shut down. By Monday afternoon, Gobert had been suspended from the Minnesota Timberwolves’ upcoming play-in game. Green was fined, but not suspended, for his actions.
According to the sources, Kyle Anderson told Gobert to “Shut the fuck up, bitch.” Gobert swung and missed. Teammates separated the two. And in the locker room, Anderson told Gobert, “I’ll knock your ass out.” The team then sent Gobert home, which was followed by an apology from Gobert to his teammates in private and a public one to fans.
“Emotions got the best of me today. I should not have reacted the way i did regardless of what was said. I wanna apologize to the fans, the organisation [sic] and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that i truly love and respect as a teammate,” Gobert tweeted.
Oddly enough, Gobert had just said this about Anderson before “the fight”:
“Kyle wants to win, and sometimes he’s a little aggressive in the way he talks, but I don’t take it personally,” Gobert said. “I receive it in a positive way because it comes from a place of wanting me to be the best Rudy I can be and wanting us to win. I love his competitiveness, love the way he plays the game. The way he makes others around him better. He’s been a huge part of this year.”
It was the perfect concoction of irony and hypocrisy, given that Gobert tweeted “Insecurity is always loud” when the video of Green and Poole leaked, taking a subtle shot at Green. However, the counterpunch from Green landed perfectly, as he tweeted the same phrase after Gobert’s swing failed to connect.
When the footage of Green and Poole leaked it became clear that fans, the media, and even former players had somehow forgotten that teammates fighting amongst themselves in practice had been happening for decades. But, this was the first time we’d ever seen it. And Ray Rice taught us that when you get caught on video, it changes everything. (I’m not posting the link to that video. Google is free.)
Well, six months later, we’re back in the same position. Except for this time it happened in a game, and the punch didn’t land.
So, what’s the conclusion?
That this was never about if punching a teammate was wrong or right. It’s always been a case study on how much people don’t like Draymond Green. Because if this was truly about “fairness,” then Rudy Gobert would receive the same backlash or more than Green. That won’t be the case, though. Rudy Gobert can’t fight and Draymond Green can. It’s as simple as that. And in situations like this, the person “with hands” tends to come out as the bad guy. If you don’t believe me, just ask Will Smith.