Don’t fault the NBA for trying to make Draymond Green act right

OPINION: Some sports pundits felt Daymond Green's suspension was excessive. But how could there be no repercussions for a player who continues to act a fool?

Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on April 09, 2023 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

When a lotta folks think of “Stomp” in an R&B sense, the first tune that pops up might be Kirk Franklin’s gospel banger, especially the remix version with Salt from Salt-N-Pepa. 

That’s definitely an all-time jam, kinda automatically though because it samples “One Nation Under a Groove.” But Franklin’s song didn’t come to mind Monday night when I saw what Golden State’s Draymond Green did to Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis in the NBA playoffs. (Technically I saw it Tuesday morning and the first time in slow-mo, because I can’t hang for West Coast games like before). 

No, the song that instantly played in my head and kept looping through replays as Green intentionally and impactfully planted his right foot in Sabonis’ chest, was a No. 1 R&B hit by the Brothers Johnson. 

We’re gonna stomp
All night
In the neighborhood
Don’t it feel alright?
Stomp, step down in it
Put your foot where feel the fit
Stomp, you don’t want to quit
Put your heel where you’re feelin’ it

Green did all of that and then some, following through with a one-legged jump as Sabonis crawled and writhed in pain. Replays showed Sabonis initiating the foul play, clutching Green’s right ankle before that Size 15 Converse slipped free and exacted revenge. Each player earned a technical foul and Green was further rebuked with an ejection.

Without prior knowledge that Green historically acts like a donkey’s butt from time to time, you might understand if he wasn’t suspended. You might agree that being tossed from Game 2 was a sufficient penalty, especially since the Big 3 of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Green have never faced such dire straits. Throughout their championship run, they’ve never entered a Game 3 after being winless in that series.

Perhaps a different player, one whose rap sheet doesn’t stretch from the rim to the foul line, would’ve been available for Thursday night’s must-win game at home. There’s no guarantee, but someone else who’s squeaky clean with no prior offenses might’ve been allowed to suit up. Even with his past dirty deeds, Green could’ve offered a quasi-plausible excuse that he was off-balance and falling, left no choice but to steady himself on the opponent’s core … though not so emphatically. He failed to maximize the opportunity. “I guess ankle-grabbing is OK,” he said afterward.

In any case, the NBA suspended him for a game. “This was not some snap-of-the-finger decision to do this, NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars told the Associated Press. It’s certainly a just decision, on what might’ve arguably been a 50-50 judgment call. I’m convinced the ruling STILL could’ve hung in the balance if only the play and Green’s history were considered. 

Draymond Green suspension,
Draymond Green (right) #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after he got tangled with Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings in the second half during Game Two of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Golden 1 Center on April 17, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

But then he leaned in on Draymond the WWE villain, with excessive theatrics that begged for a suspension if the NBA dared.

Green incited the crowd with Commissioner Adam Silver in attendance. He hollered and yelled and walked around wildly, one hand behind an ear and both hands encouraging spectators to jeer louder. He stood on a chair and went back and forth with Kings fans behind the Warriors’ bench, creating a volatile scene that approached Malice at the Palace levels. Frankly, it was a bit disturbing to see how much he enjoyed the vitriol, looking like he wished a mudder-fudger would.

NBA Executive Vice President Joe Dumars explained the ruling perfectly. “Here’s what it came down to,” he told ESPN. “Excessive and over-the-top actions, conduct detrimental and a repeat offender. That’s what separates this where you end up with a suspension.”

Seemed natural to me, but I was shocked to hear wave after wave of pundits deeming the punishment excessive. 

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said he’s “incredibly disappointed in the NBA” and “disgusted.” Jay Williams said, “This is playoff basketball!” and suspending  Green makes the league and players “look soft.” Mad Dog Russo called it “ridiculous.”

Excuse me? What’s disappointing, disgusting and ridiculous is the idea of no repercussions for a player who continually acts the fool. 

Green’s reputation is a two-edged sword. It works to his benefit at times, affording him leeway for histrionics that aren’t tolerated from other players. It works against him at other times, resulting in sanctions that can be more severe than normal when he finally crosses the line. 

His act giveth and it taketh away. The NBA was fed up and had all it could stomach Monday night. Same here. 

Green chose to go berserk in a playoff game that could lead to the defending champs being knocked out. He chose to not control himself, like in the 2016 NBA Finals when his one-game suspension sparked Cleveland’s historic comeback from a 1-3 series deficit. He chose to believe that “Draymond being Draymond” gave him license to take a dump on sportsmanship, decorum and emotional intelligence.

“It’s OK,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We accept Draymond for who is and what he stands for because, frankly, it makes us win. Draymond is incredibly competitive and passionate and fiery. We don’t have a single championship without Draymond Green. That’s the truth.”

You cannot publicly have a player’s back any better than that. 

But privately, it must be hard for the team to resist slapping him upside the head, just like he couldn’t resist dotting Jordan Poole’s eye. Given some truth serum, I bet the Warriors wouldn’t mind administering a soap sock beating, a la “Full Metal Jacket.” 

Or they could call Green into the middle of the locker room, turn off the lights and play the Brothers Johnson. 

Teammates could stomp him all night, ‘til he acts right. 

Nothing else has done the trick and this suspension is unlikely to work, either. But that’s Green’s fault. 

Don’t blame the NBA for trying.

Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at

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