We all saw it. Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams felt it. And as the 7-foot-tall mammoth of a New Zealander doubled over, our country’s collective male conscience winced. We didn’t feel it… but we did.
Draymond Green, the notoriously trash-talking stat-stuffing small forward for the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, found himself at the center of the sports world’s focus this morning after brutally kicking Adams in his man parts.
Green’s take on the whole situation?
“I brought the ball over the top this way, he fouled me and my leg went up … I don’t know how anyone could possibly say I did that on purpose,” he said.
The debate isn’t over whether it happened or not.
Green knows that; he acknowledges it happened.
The debate is over whether the kick was intentional or not and if and how Green should be punished. The referees officiating the game assessed Green a Flagrant 1 foul upon reviewing the footage of the kick.
For some people, that wasn’t enough.
Green is a well-known instigator. In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Green kneed Adams in the exact same region when he went up for a layup. That makes two times in two consecutive meetings that Green has done something questionable.
The Warrior forward has a recurring pattern of play on the court. It’s dramatic, edgy and let’s be honest, annoying. But in all my experience, those who irritate tend to get easily irritated. The rising level of annoyance between the two teams is becoming increasingly apparent, Green being the instigator-in-chief of the NBA, let alone his Warriors.
So the few times his volatile style of play boils over, it can’t go without some form of warning from the league office, be it through a suspension or a fine.
Sunday night, with his squad down 48-41 facing the very real possibility of a series deficit to a team they couldn’t have dreamed of losing to, frustration boiled over for Green and he made an emotional decision, as he tends to.
He knew where his leg was going.
An elite NBA player like Green, who’s reached the level he has through physical discipline and dominance, should have been more than capable of, at the very least, mitigating the harm done to Adams.
As for his punishment, the league is expected to announce their verdict by Monday night.
A sizable fine should do the trick here, a safe and reasonable compromise between the extremes of no suspension and a one-game suspension during the home stretch of the Western Conference Finals.
If it were the regular season, a one-game suspension would have been in the realm of reason, but with the magnitude of this series and two seasons on the line, one kick shouldn’t warrant a playoff game suspension which would more likely than not fundamentally alter the course of the series.
For the Thunder, the kick set off a fuse, powering them to a 133-105 beatdown of the sitting champions to take a 2-1 series lead.
Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals will be televised on TNT Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports