Draymond Green escaped turning the Western Conference Finals into a face-down dirt nap when the National Basketball Association decided to value his foot as having more intrinsic value than Dahntay Jones’ arm.
Green ended up with a massive fine, which unlike Dahntay Jones’ $80 fine in Cleveland will not be paid by LeBron James, Stephen Curry or any other third party, plus an upgrade to a Flagrant 2 foul which puts Green one Flagrant 1 foul short of a one-game suspension, and a stern talking-to was the three-tiered punishment for his full flail into Stephen Adams’ tenders.
[NEWS: Draymon Green not suspended]
(Another Flagrant 2 foul would result in a two-game suspension for Green. And Green would be suspended one game if he receives three more technical fouls this postseason.)
On the other hand, the Warriors will still be at full complement for Tuesday’s fourth (and defining with an eye toward deciding) game in Oklahoma City. And were it not for Adams’ proprietary right to howl loudest, the howling from this decision would be deafening.
It was, however, humorous to see the old-school/new-school debate lines redrawn with the Warriors on the side good old-fashioned hard-nosed playoff basketball rather than as the vanguard of a new effete pop-a-shot addicts who have ruined the game our fathers knew.
There isn’t even a lot of argument about intent here; the fact that this is Green’s second meeting with Adams’ goolies told the NBA’s I-team that Green needed some serious correction.
But their willingness to punish Green stopped short of bending the more-watched conference final toward fait-accompli mode, and in that way one wonders what the punishment would have been had the Warriors won Game 3 rather than been trampled by it.
And while you’re doing all that wondering, recognize that the Green case has put the NBA back in its old place as a conspiracy-theorists’ hothouse, from which commissioner Adam Silver and his overlords have been trying to take it since the Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers conference final in 2002. If there is a line to be drawn between Jones, who got a one-game suspension, and Green, it is hard to see, and the argument that “this sort of thing goes on all the time” doesn’t resonate much if you’re trying to get rid of that thing.
So the question for Silver became one of timing, as in, “Is this the time to make the stand, or are there ways to toughen the rules against ball-striking in the offseason to make all incidents suspendable regardless of intent?"
And in putting off the issue, Silver looks like there was indeed one rule for some folks and one rule for others. And the Warriors gratefully, and cynically, accepted this largesse. It’s the playoffs, after all, and the rules on everything are considered mere suggestions.
You see, the Warriors cannot be on the cutting edge of change and use the past as a shield at the same time. Well, they can, actually. They just did. But there is no intellectual consistency to their logic. They are in this case like all other teams -- wanting what they want when they want it. And to that end, they’re not wrong, because it is the NBA’s job to be the cop on the beat. It’s just that now, the Warriors can’t claim to be the good guys.
Frankly, the basic rule of behavior modification is in place here. If you want a behavior to stop, you make the punishment for it so oppressive to the perpetrator that the risk-reward ratio becomes unbearable. If the NBA wants nutshots to stop, it has to have an automatic fine-and-minimum-suspension system installed, one that is just as swift and draconian for anyone who decides to pretend that his Y-fronts have just been violated as well (we are not suggesting at this moment that Adams has faked either incident; we are in the hypothetical realm right now).
In any event, the owners and players do not really have commonality on the groin issue yet, and it ought to be a matter of discussion this summer. Maybe it will work better than the flopping crusade did. Either way, Silver decided that it wasn’t enough of a problem today as it was yesterday, and will worry about fixing it tomorrow.
As for Green, he can prepare for Game 4 knowing he has never played a worse game -- either by number or by damage to his reputation. And the Warriors get whatever peace of mind comes from knowing that they are now on the side of the old-school cadres who typically dismiss them. There is no standing for the new basketball while speaking with pride of the cynical standards of the old basketball. Frankly, it sounds a lot like a response crying out for your mom’s old saw, “If they all decided to jump off the roof, would you do it too?”
But this one time, a day after it didn’t work for Dahntay Jones, it worked for Draymond Green. We will now see if it works for the Warriors as well.