The 2016 NBA Finals has its asterisk moment. Countless postseason series have been decided by injuries (ask the 2014–15 Cavs about that), broken air conditioners (hi, LeBron), and suspensions (Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw in 2007). In 2016, we have the suspension of Draymond Green for Game 5 of the Finals. Monday night, we’ll see just how big this asterisk will get.
After the league reviewed footage of a Game 4 incident between the Warriors forward and LeBron James and determined that Green took a “retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin” of the Cavs star, Green was slapped with a flagrant 1. This was his fourth flagrant foul point this postseason, triggering an automatic suspension. Green will be watching Game 5 from somewhere other than Oracle Arena (he’s not allowed on the premises), and the Cavs now have a slim beam of daylight in this series. If Cleveland is somehow able to turn things around, Draymond’s “retaliatory swipe” will go down in NBA asterisk lore.
This sucks for a lot of reasons …
This Sucks for Draymond
There is no silver lining to this one. If the Warriors lose, Green will obviously feel a huge amount of responsibility. He missed just one game this season, and the Warriors lost (to the Nuggets). He is the heartbeat, backbone, and vocal cords of this club.
About that outcome: What if the Warriors … win the NBA title? Can you imagine being an integral part of a historically great team — winning 73 regular-season games, coming back from a 3–1 deficit in the Western Conference finals, and comprehensively beating the Cavs — and then not being on the floor when the final buzzer sounds? Or even being in the building? Reportedly, Green can enter the building after the game, but it’s hardly the same, is it? It’s strange to think of a back-to-back championship as anything other than glorious, but it would have to be really bittersweet for Green to end the season like this, especially since he had been among the favorites for Finals MVP.
This Sucks for Klay and Steph
Green is essential to everything the Warriors do on both ends of the floor.
He is the Lineup of Death’s executioner. And, as Kevin Pelton pointed out on ESPN, Green is the Splash Cousin. Whenever Curry or Thompson is on the floor, Draymond is usually there with them. He’s their safety blanket. Steph already looks like he’s spent the last three weeks rolling down a mountain:
He needs all the protection and help he can get out there.
This Sucks for Whoever This Winds Up Being
This Sucks for the Thunder
Somewhere, Steven Adams is sitting on an ice pack, wondering where NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe was after Draymond performed an Adam Vinatieri impersonation on his family jewels in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. The Thunder won Game 4, despite Green’s presence, but they must be kicking themselves (too soon?) over the what-ifs. Who knows what ripple effect a Green suspension could have had on that series.
This Sucks for LeBron
His balls are now a talking point. We should be focusing on the really important things. Like his Undertaker T-shirt.