Draymond Green is paying full retail for the misdemeanors of the past, and I will let you argue this point any way you wish.
All I know is this: If he hasn’t figured out the distance between “Draymond being Draymond” and “Draymond Being An Accumulated Hindrance” now, he may never do so.
The NBA reviewed his latest brush with the third rail, a disrespect-meets-groin-meets-argument in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and will miss Game 5 because of his accumulated behavioral demerits.
And yes, the incident itself is of little consequence. But this is about Green’s willingness to allow his anger to free-range, and the NBA’s unwillingness to wait for him to self-correct.
Green is not a thug. He is not a cheater. He is not bad for the game. Anyone who engages in that is abandoning rationality and evidence in pursuit of either Cleveland fandom or just a need to be rhetorically frothy in search of a hot take.
But the NBA gets to decide how close he gets to run to the line because, well, the NBA is his employer, and it is not as though he hadn’t been told and told and told again that he needs an inner governor.
And that is its own league problem. Between the time-honored NBA Playoffs anything-goes-until-we-say-otherwise ethic and the players’ acceptance of those rules and willingness to push even them to their logical extremes, this result is to be expected.
In fact, Adam Silver, as the spokesman for the 30 billionaires who own him, is now stuck for a legislated response in the off-season, one that is both draconian and consistent.
1. To cut back the number of allowable technical fouls in the regular season and postseason to 10 and three (arbitrary, true, but message-enriched).
2. To make groin shots, inadvertent or entirely intended, suspendable offenses, and not with just one game but several. If the idea that players cannot control their bodies is accepted, everything can be called an accident and no behavior can be regulated. The league has to pick one or the other, because this middle ground thing isn’t working.
3. To do a dramatically better job of training officials to police potential on-court issues through common sense rather than waiting for the league to make ex post facto rulings. The Danny Crawford-Mike Callahan-Jason Phillips crew, trying to let the fellows play, let the game get too grabby and pushy and mouthy, and even their tempered response to the James-Green set-to was mindful of Green’s situation. It clearly didn’t work, but the league’s laughable attempt to make all officials be the same as all other officials is doomed to failure, especially if their on-court judgment is to be removed from their control.
4. Hiring Joey Crawford to find the next generation of Joey Crawfords. The NBA’s fear of personality has given us the thinnest group of quality playoff officials in league history, and if Silver doesn’t make that a priority, it will be the first measurable failure of his reign.
But that’s the future. The now is Draymond Green paying for accumulated sins at a time when his team needs it least. The Warriors have walked a tightrope of his personality while erring regularly on the side of letting-Draymond-be-Draymond, and now their leniency has been rejected as a methodology by their own superiors.
So there is nothing to do but do the best they can at home in Game 5 without the man best equipped to neutralize the man Warrior fans will curse as the instigator of the events of Friday night.
And Green will be forced to learn the limits of his world, whether that is best for him, the Warriors and the league or not. This is the burner on the stove. Draymond Green has just learned about heat.