After a day of internet outrage by the media and fans alike, Draymond Green has been sat down for an indefinite amount of time. The NBA said he’ll have to meet certain league and team criteria before returning to the court. The punishment isn’t surprising, nor is it easy to evaluate considering it’s open-ended.
Adam Silver is running the Ja Morant playbook from last season, right down to the part where he gauges the backlash before making a ruling. While taking the temperature of your supporters and critics before acting can be a smart move, it also lends to the notion that Silver can be influenced.
For Green, who is a repeat offender and is getting especially ornery as he ages, this season feels like the year Rasheed Wallace got a million techs in Portland, or late-stage Dennis Rodman when he was kicking cameramen. The offcourt stuff with Green might not be as eccentric as Rodman, or as self-destructive as Wallace, but when talking about on-court behavior that will get you suspended, he’s as prolific as the other two problem children.
Think about the Rudy Gobert chokehold for a second. That was some 1970’s era stuff. He dragged another player around the floor by the neck for what felt like 15 minutes, and got only five games. However, that was different because fans and media members find Gobert annoying, off-putting or soft, so it’s OK that he got bullied. Plus, Draymond was just being Draymond, and everybody loves jackassery.
That’s how we end up with Green saying, and I kid you not, “I don’t live my life with regrets” in his first media availability following the Gobert sanction. If someone’s first words after a justifiable, possibly lax punishment are “I don’t live my life with regrets” then the punishment definitely wasn’t severe enough.
I’m not trying to sound like an authoritarian, or Ruby Franke, but Silver’s first ruling on Green this season was akin to a parent giving their tween milk and cookies during a five-minute timeout for spitting in the neighbor kid’s face. (I’m not a parent so my apologies if that’s not an apt analogy, but you get my point.)
There are times when a commissioner has to make an unpopular ruling and the closest Silver has come to that is Morant’s 25-game sit-down to start this year. One could argue it’s the Miles Bridges punishment, yet a lot of NBA writers and fans don’t have the same energy for violence against women, which also is on the commish, but this piece isn’t about screaming into that void.
The league took forever to make a decision on Morant after his second screwup in May because the NBA conducted its own investigation into the Grizzlies’ star — and needed extra time to poll voters. In my opinion, Ja’s sophomoric behavior warranted a quarter of a season if for no other reason than it showed a blatant disregard for Silver’s authority. If the response felt personal, and I hope it was, the commish displayed the kind of human element I want in a commissioner or boss.
That’s what was lacking in the Kyrie Irving anti-setmitism debacle last season. First it was five games, then it was indefinite because five games wasn’t enough to get Irving to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.” The NBA finally settled on eight games because Irving glad-handed with some rabbis and passed a Jewish literacy course.
I wouldn’t have blamed Silver, who is Jewish, if he extended Irving’s sentence for taking a dig at his heritage. Same goes if Irving made a bunch of bald jokes.
Morant’s indefinite leave of absence for flashing a gun in a Denver stripclub on IG Live ended up being eight games, as well. That said, both Morant and Irving stories felt like sagas due to the “no end in sight” vibes that accompany the word “indefinitely.”
Obviously, the players association affects SIlver’s decisions on discipline, but the NBPA can file an appeal if it disagrees. Green’s most recent outburst is going to devolve into another George Martin novel the longer he’s chilling in limbo. If Irving and Morant can undergo treatment or educational classes in two weeks, aka the amount of time it takes to play eight games, then there’s precedence for whatever sham counseling is in store for the Warriors’ forward.
While I think everyone is in agreement that eight games isn’t enough, it’s on Adam Silver and the NBA — not the media or angry tweeters — to decide how many games is sufficient.