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Green's groin kick could have major implications

USA TODAY SPORTS USA TODAY SPORTS 23/05/2016 by Sam Amick

Everyone was a comedian in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room late Sunday night.

The reporter who joked that Draymond Green’s Pele’ impersonation on Steven Adams’ groin had “kick-started” them in this 133-105 rout of the Golden State Warriors that gave them a 2-1 series edge in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder teammates who told Adams he may want to visit a local sperm bank soon to ensure a chance at fatherhood. And Adams himself, of course, who took the laugh-so-you-don’t-cry-anymore approach afterward while noting that Green had hit him below the belt in Game 2 as well. 

“It happened before, mate,” Adams said with a grin. “He’s pretty accurate, that guy.”

He cried when it took place in the second quarter, Green’s right leg flying up after he’d been fouled in the paint and nailing Adams long after the whistle had been blown. There was nausea too, Adams said, all of it part of those excruciating few minutes when he stayed on his knees and was attended to by the team’s training staff. 

Yet depending on the league’s ruling on Monday, when the Flagrant One foul could ultimately be deemed worthy of a suspension that would take him out of Game 4 on Tuesday, the joke may wind up being on the Warriors here. And despite all the absolutes being spewed from involved parties afterward, there’s nothing easy about this decision. 

Intent is impossible to determine, meaning Green’s claim that this was all a case of painful and accidental physics will certainly be considered. On the other side, where the Thunder were already suspect of Green’s Game 2 antics in which he went at Adams with his words, elbows and legs early and often, there was understandable frustration.

“Honestly, I think it’s intentional,” said Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who had 30 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. “That’s two times in the last two games. I don’t think you can keep kicking somebody in their private areas. But he probably said he didn’t do it on purpose, but I think the way I look at it, it looks intentional to me.”

Green's groin kick could have major implications © Mark D. Smith, USA TODAY Sports Green's groin kick could have major implications Green, as Westbrook predicted, swore that wasn’t the case. What’s more, he boldly predicted that the Flagrant One penalty would be rescinded. 

“I followed through on a shot,” Green explained. “Like I’d try to kick somebody in the midsection. He probably wants to have kids one day. I’m not trying to end that on a basketball court. That don’t make sense. So I brought the ball over the top this way, he fouled me, and my leg went up.

“I know my (abdominal) core’s not strong enough to stop my leg halfway from wherever it was going. Honestly, I didn’t know I hit him. I walked to the three-point line, clapped everybody’s hands, and I turned around and he’s on the floor.”

Green, who missed eight of nine shots, had six points, four rebounds, three assists and was a team-worst minus-43 in the plus-minus rating in 32 minutes, stuck to his version of the event.

“I’m not trying to kick him, just following through on a shot and my leg went up, so I don’t think I’ll get suspended,” he continued. “I don’t know how anyone could possibly say I did that on purpose, regardless of the way it may look…We’ll see what happens. But I don’t even think I should have got a flagrant. 

“I even asked the official and he said, ‘Well, I don’t think it was with intent, but it’s just the fact that you hit him under the groin that I have to give you a flagrant.’ So we’ll see what happens. But it wasn’t on purpose. Like I don’t make a day out of hitting someone down there. That’s not what I try to do when I’m playing.”

As high stakes go, this decision that will be up to vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe looms larger than any in recent NBA playoff history. Green’s value to the Warriors is well-chronicled, and the notion of not having him in a crucial Game 4 is nothing short of a nightmare for Golden State. 

What’s more, because the incident with Adams took place just hours after the NBA announced that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones was suspended one game for his groin punch on the Toronto Raptors’ Bismack Biyombo in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the precedent has been set. And truth be told, it was set even before the Jones-Biyombo play. 

Whether it was Dwyane Wade’s groin kick on Ramon Sessions in Dec. 2012, or Dennis Schroeder’s low blow on DeMarcus Cousins in November of 2013, or James Harden’s crotch kick on LeBron James in March 2015 or Marcus Smart’s one-game suspension in March for his groin punch on Matt Bonner in that same month, there’s a long history of these kinds of incidents leading to a one-game suspension. Make no mistake, this is the kind of evidence that the Thunder will make sure the NBA is reminded of as league officials debate the decision. 

As early signs go, it doesn’t bode well for the Warriors that the man who made these sorts of decision before Vandeweghe, Stu Jackson, made it clear that via Twitter that he believes Green should be suspended. 

With the Western Conference crown on the line, we’ll know soon enough who has the last laugh.


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