It’s a little after noon in Oklahoma City, and like everyone else with an interest in NBA basketball, I’m waiting to hear if Draymond Green will be suspended for kicking the Thunder’s Steven Adams in the groin during the Warriors’ embarrassing 133-105 loss in Game 3 here.
Intent is not written into the NBA’s rules on flagrant fouls, but of course that’s the issue we’re all trying to get at. Did Green intentionally boot Adams in the nuts, or was it an inadvertent action in the heat of battle?
Green insisted last night it was an unfortunate accident, and he repeated the claim this morning before the Warriors’ light practice at Chesapeake Energy Arena. After the game, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook said it must have been on purpose. Thunder coach Billy Donovan and Adams himself didn’t concur in so many words, but they hinted at it.
We’ll probably never know. I can certainly picture a scenario in which Green, emotional as always and ticked off at Adams’ physical play, swung his right leg not with a malicious plan but with casual disregard for the Kiwi’s reproductive organs. At one split-second, perhaps Green even realized what was about to happen – and didn’t particularly care, at least not enough to change course.
Pure speculation, yes.
But Green is telling the truth about one thing. The NBA has become a league of flailing arms and legs. It isn’t enough to absorb contact and look at the referee while waiting for a whistle. You’ve got to pitch that foul like Vin Diesel auditioning for his next action role.
Steve Kerr acknowledged as much this morning.
“You watch this league, people flail all the time trying to draw fouls, in my opinion,” the coach said. “And I’ve seen Draymond do this a lot. He goes up, he gets bumped. It was a minor foul, Adams kind of hit him here (across the arm). He tried to sell it, he kicked his leg up. To me it’s no different from Westbrook kicking his legs out on the threes when he feels like there’s contact. Guys do it to try to sell the contact. Obviously, the issue is he got him in the wrong place.”
We’ve seen James Harden do it a million times. LeBron James, too. Again, not trying to absolve Green of responsibility. But it’s true that the arms and legs of NBA players tend to get yanked by marionette strings when they are fouled.
“Russell Westbrook kicked me at the end of the half,” Green said today. “He just didn’t happen to catch me where I happened to (have) caught Steven Adams at.”
Green also said this: “I did it later in the game, got fouled and my right leg went up. I always do it. Russell said I did it on purpose but he’s a part of the superstar group that started all this acting in the NBA. I didn’t. So I sold the call. He caught me that way, I sold the call.”
Blaming Westbrook for Adams’ sore man-parts might be a stretch. But indicting the NBA’s scoring stars for our current culture of out-of-control, spasmodic flapping is, like Draymond Green’s foot, right on target.