There’s no denying Draymond Green‘s talent level, and there’s a strong argument that he is the Golden State Warriors‘ most important player. Much of his appeal to fans lies in his overall willingness to be candid with the media and his competitive fire, but there’s a line somewhere and Green is quickly becoming my least favorite NBA player.
The Oklahoma City Thunder got a decisive victory over Golden State in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday night, but the conversation coming out of the game has centered on Green’s kick to the groin (or whatever metaphor you prefer) of Thunder center Steven Adams. Green got a flagrant foul for what looked like an intentional move, after being fouled on a drive to the basket, and he of course denied kicking Adams intentionally.
As expected, the post-game comments about Green’s kick was evenly divided along team lines. Green and Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr dismissed the idea of intent, while expecting the technical foul to be rescinded and a possible suspension to be avoided. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook said he thought Green’s move looked intentional, while citing a similar incident from Game 2 where Green also kicked Adams. The first kick did not seem intentional, but I’m in line with Westbrook on the idea that one time is a mistake and two times is a trend.
It’s hard to legislate intent in sports, mostly because who really knows what’s going on in someone’s head? Emotional outbursts happen, and Green’s kick to Adams Sunday night was clearly a step beyond an attempt to initiate contact or create space. For those that think that’s a big assumption, please refer to Stephen Curry‘s post-game comments on Sunday night that it was “clear” that Green did not intend to kick Adams. That’s also a huge assumption, based on nothing more than standing behind a teammate.
There was a well-publicized halftime incident back in February, during a Saturday night game between the Warriors and the Thunder. ESPN’s Lisa Salters passed along that she heard someone screaming inside Golden State’s locker room, and that it was Green. Sports lllustrated added to the story recently, with a story that Kerr was critical of Green in that halftime locker room and Green had to be restrained from going after his coach by teammates. What was Green going to do if he hadn’t been restrained? Punch his coach? While it may have been overblown, even a hint that Green lacked control of himself to such a degree that teammates had to keep him in-check makes him look childish.
Kerr has dismissed that halftime episode, with a quote from the SI story suggesting “you need a little bit of crazy” and adding that Green gives the Warriors an edge that no one else on the team offers. While that’s true, there’s fine line between crazy or edgy and outright divisive or stupid. Green has jumped over that line for me, and I’m hoping he gets a well-deserved suspension for Game 4.