Golden State's Draymond Green stepping on the chest of Sacramento's Domantas Sabonis was an action the league considered excessive, dangerous and worthy of suspension, NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars said Wednesday.
Dumars — whose job duties include being one of the NBA's major decision-makers for player discipline matters — shed light on what went into the decision to suspend Green for a playoff game, and why Sabonis' actions didn't merit further sanctioning.
“This was not some snap-of-the-finger decision to do this,” Dumars said in an interview with The Associated Press. “There was much discussion, and back and forth, looking at the play itself over and over. And then ultimately we came to the decision that the act itself, and repeat offenses, actually did warrant a suspension.”
The incident with Sabonis and Green came midway through the fourth quarter of the Sacramento-Golden State game on Monday night. Sabonis grabbed at Green’s ankle and Green wound up stepping — some would describe it as stomping — on Sabonis’ chest.
Sabonis got a technical, Green was ejected, the Warriors lost to fall into a 2-0 series hole and then the NBA decided Green needed to sit out a full game as well.
“It wasn’t like it went completely unpunished,” Dumars said of Sabonis' role. “We didn’t think it rose to the level of Draymond’s play — excessive, over-the-top, dangerous, repeat offender. That’s the separation between what he did and what Draymond did.”
The Warriors, predictably, were not pleased with the NBA's ruling.
"In their defense, what do they care what I have to say? I mean, they know what I'm going to say,” general manager Bob Myers said Wednesday, while Golden State gathered for practice. “They don't need me to make the decision.
"As far as how we felt, you know, we've been here before and we've got to play a game tomorrow night. Once these decisions are made, there's no appellate court. It's over. So you can react however you want to react, but it doesn't change the fact he's not playing and we've got a game tomorrow night.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr offered a similar assessment as Myers, though noted that he was “extremely surprised” that Green got suspended.
“There's no time to spend worrying about it or thinking about it or complaining about it. Doesn’t matter,” Kerr said. “We know what the league decided to do and we have to respond accordingly and go out there and go win the game.”
Green has been suspended in the playoffs before, missing Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals because of an accumulation of flagrant-foul points during that postseason. He went over the limit after what the NBA called at the time a “retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin” of LeBron James. Cleveland won Game 5, then prevailed in Games 6 and 7 to capture the title.
It’s also Green's second suspension this season. He had to miss a game in March after his 16th technical of the season. And in the preseason, he also caused the Warriors major headaches by punching teammate Jordan Poole in practice. He was also fined $25,000 earlier this season for an incident where the league found he directed obscene language toward a fan.
Green spent several moments gesturing at and yelling to the crowd, which included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, after the play Monday night. Dumars said those antics were yet another factor.
“The stuff that happened afterward, that doesn’t help the situation,” Dumars said. “But if it was just that alone, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I focused on the act itself, and the fact that it’s a repeat offense, those were the two main things.”
Kerr acknowledged that Green “has crossed the line” at times over the years — but insisted that he has enormous value to the Warriors.
“Draymond is incredibly competitive and passionate and fiery,” Kerr said. “He's helped us win four championships. I've said many times, we don't have a single championship here without Draymond Green. That's the truth.”
Dumars and Green have been close for years. That didn't make this chapter any easier for Dumars.
On the night Green was drafted, he got a phone call as he slipped into the second round. The caller was Dumars, then the president of the Detroit Pistons, who checked in to show support and tell him to remain calm.
“When I took this job I knew these type of situations would arise, not just with Draymond but also other guys I worked with and players and a lot of people across the league that I have personal relationships with,” Dumars said. “I think each one of them knows Joe D. has a job to do. You have to be objective in this seat, and people have to know I'm going to call balls and strikes, going to call it like I see it. You have to be honest in this seat. You have to do it the right way.”
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