- David Zalubowski/AP
Draymond Green will not be suspended from Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals following his kick to the groin of the Thunder’s Steven Adams, but according to the NBA’s former dead of discipline that was the wrong decision.
Stu Jackson is the NBA’s former executive vice president for basketball operations and under former commissioner David Stern, was responsible for reviewing on-court conduct and handing down discipline. He was a guest on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” and says the new NBA regime got the Green ruling wrong and wonders if they are using a different set of rules for star players.
“I’m looking at the [NBA’s press release] yesterday and it had all the feeling that the NBA backed into a desired outcome here, rather than arriving at a decision based upon the flagrant foul rule and the history of penalties with respect to flagrant fouls,” Jackson said. “My release would have said that it would have been upgraded to a flagrant-foul, penalty 2, and he would have received a 1-game suspension.”
According to Jackson, there are six criteria that are looked at when reviewing a foul of this nature and that Green’s kick to the groin meets four of them, presumably the first four. It is also important to note that intent is not one of the criteria.
Was the contact severe? Was it reckless or was the player making a basketball play? Was there windup and follow through with the action after contact was made? Was there potential for injury? Did the contact result in actual injury? Did the incident lead to further conflict (i.e. a fight)?
“To me, with this particular act, you don’t need intent to evaluate it,” Jackson explained. “If you go through the criteria, it clearly meets four of the six criteria.”
[Note: It is worth pointing out that during the 2013 regular season, Serge Ibaka swung his arm and hit Blake Griffin in the groin. In this case, Jackson upgraded the foul to a Flagrant-2 and fined Ibaka $25,000 – the same as Green – but did not suspend Ibaka. You can see video of that incident below.]
When Jackson was asked if the status of the player (Green is a star) and the game (conference finals) would play a factor in the decision, he said that was not the case when he was the dean of discipline because player safety came first. However, he is not convinced the same is true under new commissioner Adam Silver and his new executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe.
“Given the ruling yesterday, it leads one to believe that there’s this notion of a double-standard,” said Jackson. “If you look at contact hits throughout this playoffs … it leads you to believe that you’re getting different treatment for different players in these playoff games. That stuff concerns me.”
The NBA has long been accused of playing favorites with star players. But according to Jackson, that was not the case under his watch when player safety was involved and there were plenty of times when key players were suspended from important games for actions far less severe than what Green did. By not suspending Green, it appears that times are changing.
Here is video of the 2014 incident involving Serge Ibaka: