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The NBA made a controversial decision on Tuesday morning as they decided not to suspend Warriors forward Draymond Green for kicking Steven Adams in the groin. The NBA’s Head of Discipline explained why Green wasn’t suspended and revealed how much time and energy actually went into this “investigation” and play.
Q: Kiki, I felt like this was one of those rare moments where a little added perspective might help the fans understand how you guys saw this thing. You have high stakes in the playoffs, and a somewhat controversial guy in Draymond in terms of the way that he plays the game, but you tell me: what was today like, and at the end of the day, what factors weighed most heavily on your mind when it comes to making this decision?
A: Right. Well, obviously these are tough calls, and they’re very difficult and they’re all different. Basically, (he) spent last night and today looking at a bunch of comparables, which were kind of all over the place. I mean we had a number of ones that nothing was called, we had Flagrant Ones and Flagrant Twos and Flagrant Twos and fines, and suspensions. I spent the day watching a bunch of film, watching comparables, talking to the referees, and the replay center referees, and we also do a thorough investigation.
We have professional investigators that conduct the investigation. They talk to the players, they talk to all the referees, including the replay officials, and they all come back and report to me. I obviously discuss it internally, and especially with referee operations, get their perspective. But at the end of the day every play is different and that’s the problem. You take into account everything. You take into account t what the referees have said. They obviously went with a flagrant one last night, and you take into account the comparables. The problem with comparables is they never tell the whole story.
Q: Kiki, a lot of focus on the Dahntay Jones situation. And to hear you talk about comparables, is there perhaps a comparable that hasn’t been discussed as much that may have weighed even more heavily on your mind in terms of this kind of play not resulting in a suspension?
A: You know, I think that there were a number of them. But just to talk about the Dahntay Jones situation, I think that was basically a completely different play. That, you had somebody (who was) tussling for a rebound, and Jones brings back his hand his hand is open. And as he brings his hand back forward and makes contact with Bismack’s (Biyombo) groin area, the fist is closed. And so you have contact with a closed fist, so to me that’s a very different scenario and, to me, a different fact pattern, so it’s very different from what we’re talking about with Draymond, that I viewed as a flail that is becoming, you know, pretty common amongst our players in trying to sell calls. Draymond does it a fair amount, Westbrook does it a fair amount, and a number of other players. Unfortunately, in this particular one, Draymond’s leg connected in the same Adams groin area, the same area, as the Jones one, but everything else about the call, or the play, was really different. And you know, again, the ball was knocked out of Draymond’s hands, he went up, trying to sell a call, he flails his arm, he flails his leg, and so at that point, when the contact was made, I think we felt that something more, some additional penalty was warranted, so that’s what we did.
Q: You guys are constantly battling the conspiracy theory narrative, and the idea that – ‘Well, because it’s Draymond Green, an All-Star, as opposed to Dahntay Jones, a role player, that’s why they didn’t come down hard.’ In your position – and it’s not a real enviable spot to be in – how do you reconcile that when you know (the perception)? The second that the news broke on this, my timeline on Twitter was filled with people saying ‘Typical NBA, they’re going to protect the stars. It’s all about business, it’s not about basketball.’ How do you see that aspect of things, Kiki?
A: Well first of all, you can’t take that into consideration. Obviously I knew that I would be subject to some criticism in that area. I mean we knew that ahead of time. And I can’t let that effect – as best I can – I can’t let that effect my decision. You’ve got to make it on the merits of individual play, and everything, all the facts that are going on around it. So you look at that, as I said, the Dahntay Jones one, in my view, was completely different than this one. I realize that it ended the same way, with contact to the groin area. But as I told you before, a closed fist to the groin area right in front of a straightforward strike is very different than going up, getting the ball knocked out. I don’t think anybody really argues to much with the flail.