After the NBA announced late on Tuesday night that Warriors forward Draymond Green would be suspended for Game 3 against Sacramento for stepping on Domantas Sabonis in Game 2, NBA vice president and head of basketball operations Joe Dumars has done the media rounds on Wednesday to explain the thinking behind the controversial decision.
Speaking to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, Dumars stressed that league officials spent much of Tuesday deliberating their response, noting that it was “not some snap-of-the-finger decision.” In a phone interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Dumars said there were three primary factors that went into the ruling to suspend Green for one game.
“Here’s what it came down to: Excessive and over-the-top actions, conduct detrimental (to the league), and a repeat offender,” Dumars said. “That’s what separates this where you end up with a suspension.”
As Dumars notes – and as the NBA mentioned in its initial announcement – the league weighed Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts in its decision. He has racked up 162 career technical fouls, 17 ejections, and now four suspensions, per Wojnarowski. Asked if someone with a cleaner record might have received a lesser punishment, Dumars didn’t offer a definitive answer.
“It may have been, but the act itself still would have been looked at in a serious way — stomping on a guy’s chest,” he told ESPN. “On the back end of this act, you add repeat offender and that’s how you end up getting to a suspension.”
During the moments when the play was being reviewed on the court in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game, Green responded to the vitriol he was receiving from fans in Sacramento by standing on a chair, egging them on, and taunting them back. Although that wasn’t a primary reason for the suspension, Dumars acknowledged to both Reynolds and Wojnarowski that it was a factor, referring to Green’s behavior as “not helpful.”
“The stuff that happened afterward, that doesn’t help the situation,” Dumars told The Associated Press. “But if it was just that alone, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I focused on the act itself, the fact that it’s a repeat offense, those were the two main things.”
Within an hour of the NBA’s announcement on Tuesday night, the Kings made an announcement of their own, issuing a press release to say that Sabonis had been diagnosed with a sternum contusion and would be listed as questionable for Game 3 (Twitter link via Sean Cunningham of FOX 40 Sacramento).
The league was aware of that diagnosis before announcing Green’s suspension, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Sabonis’ injury wasn’t a major factor in the decision, though Dumars did tell Wojnarowski that “you don’t ignore that.”
As for why Sabonis didn’t face any additional penalty of his own for grabbing Green’s leg just before being stepped on, Dumars said the NBA determined that the game’s referees made the correct ruling on the court and felt that no further punishment was warranted for the Kings center.
“Sabonis was penalized in the game with a technical foul and Golden State gets the free throw,” Dumars told ESPN. “It wasn’t like (Sabonis) didn’t get off without any punishment, but we didn’t think that rose to the level of excessive and over-the-top, conduct detrimental and repeat offender. That’s why you separate those two and deal with one act on the court — and then another act.”