Draymond Green was reeling after referees admitted his second technical foul and ensuing ejection was a "mistake" and justifiably so.
After a mistaken ejection that played a key role in the Warriors' 119-104 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday, Green called for a possible rule change.
"I'm just a bit confused," Green told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears. "Officials can meet and make a decision on any call throughout the game, but when it comes to a technical foul that was clearly wrong due to an official assuming I was talking to him when in fact I wasn't, that can't be overturned? Maybe it's time to take a look at that rule. I would love clarity on why that's a rule, if in fact it is a rule."
John Butler called Green for a second technical foul with a little over a minute remaining in the first half of the contest. Per NBA rules, a player is immediately ejected from the game after receiving a second technical. Green was removed from the contest, leaving Golden State without their best defender for the entirety of the second half.
The only problem? The call never should've happened.
Per the official pool report, Green was assessed the technical for "profanity that was deemed to be directed at the official." In reality, Green was yelling at rookie teammate James Wiseman after a turnover on the play prior. Butler, who is in his first year as a full-time referee, believed Green was yelling at him, which led to Green's second technical and automatic ejection.
Coach Steve Kerr said crew chief Ben Taylor told him at halftime they made a "mistake" in ejecting Green.
"At halftime, Ben Taylor came out and told me that it was a mistake, that John Butler didn't realize Draymond was yelling at his teammate," Kerr told reporters after the game. "He thought he was yelling at him."
Green is no stranger to technical fouls, but he seemed adamant that there was an immense misunderstanding as soon as he realized he was being issued a second violation. He could be seen on the television broadcast pleading his case while gesturing at Wiseman, with Kerr also inferring if there was a way he could challenge the call. Both were to no avail, as Green was soon escorted off the court by another coach.
Even though the referees were made aware of Green's true actions, they did not rescind the technical. Per NBC Sports Insider Monte Poole, no follow up questions were allowed to see why.
The incident is especially perturbing when events like this have transpired differently in the past. In 2016, former Warrior DeMarcus Cousins was issued a second technical foul and ejected from a game as a member of the Sacramento Kings. Referees believed Cousins had intentionally spit his mouth guard on the court. In reality, the mouth guard had accidentally fallen out of Cousin's mouth. The crew rescinded the technical and Cousins was allowed back in the game.
While Golden State wasn't playing particularly well in the first half, they only trailed the Knicks 63-57. The wheels fell off without him though, especially defensively, in the second half, and New York ran away with the game shortly after.
The impact was not lost on the three-time All-Star in any way.
"I would also like to know what happens with something like that?," Green added. "That can’t just be OK. That one game can determine a lot for us. Also for the morale of very young team. Tough tough situation.”
Green finished the contest with three points, eight assists and zero rebounds over 17 minutes.
Teammate Andrew Wiggins, who scored 17 points and fell a rebound shy of a double-double in the loss, agreed.
"It makes a big difference," Wiggins said. "Draymond is a huge part of this team on both sides of the floor. His presence, even on the bench is huge. We missed him, obviously, tonight."
Steph Curry, who led all scorers with 30 points, said "I don't know the rules are in that situation when it was pretty clear who he was talking to. I don't know if you can take it back in the moment, but it was pretty glaring he was talking to his own teammate."
Wiseman was also confused, saying he "didn't really understand" why the call was made.
Although the league will likely rescind Green's technical after reviewing the play, it's a little too late for Green and the Warriors. However, Green's errant ejection could make a very solid case in reevaluating protocols in the future.