OAKLAND -- Maybe it’s the sense of entitlement that comes with unprecedented success followed by immense popularity, but the Warriors have become one of those teams that make NBA officials cringe.
The griping and gesturing and staring and occasional profanity -- the Warriors are guilty of it all and, yes, sometimes the calls are so atrocious they’re an affront to the art of refereeing.
General manager Bob Myers has seen and heard enough. On Thursday, he acted.
In the wake of the Warriors being slammed with five technical fouls and the ejection of Draymond Green on 125-105 loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Myers met with the team to discuss on-court conduct and the spate of technical fouls that are assessed to the Warriors.
“Hopefully, they remembered it for more than five minutes and they hung on to it,” he said prior to a 121-103 victory over the Mavericks. “But you never know. It seems like they were listening a little bit.”
Green quickly proved containing this issue is going to be a work in progress. He picked up technical foul with 8:12 left in the second quarter. After making a layup in transition, the ball dropped into his lap before he quickly dumped it on the floor and that was enough for referee Tre Maddox to issue a delay of game warning.
When Green, jogging out near the midcourt stripe with his back to Maddox, heard the delay whistle, he turned and raised both arms in surprise. As he spun away, getting back on defense, he waved his hand in the general direction of Maddox, who was maybe 40 feet away when he whistled the technical.
“Miss more layups, don’t let the ball hit me and then don’t throw air punches, which I’m still trying to find out what an air punch was,” Green said as part of a colorful, animated, scientific response.
That was Green’s 14th technical foul, leaving two away from a one-game suspension, something that surely was on Myers’ mind as addressed the team earlier in the day.
“They’ve worked very hard as individuals to cultivate a reputation that I think is mostly appreciated out there, certainly in our local market,” Myers said. “Beyond that, through their play and their character, their demeanor, the way Steve coaches, the way they share. I said that we need to work to protect that and acknowledge it. But that takes care to sustain that.”
Green leads the NBA with 14 technical fouls, according to NBA.com statistics. Kevin Durant is tied for second with 11. Steve Kerr has five, leaving him in a six-way tie for fourth place among coaches, which is a problem in itself.
“I’m as guilty as anybody,” Kerr said. “I think I’m second in the league in coaches’ technicals with seven. We all need to do a better job of staying poised. I don’t like the look of the constant complaining, myself included. We have to get better with that.”
Kerr was wrong on his total but correct in his acknowledgment. The Warriors are tarnishing what once was a fairly upstanding reputation.
The players are keeping officials busy. The Warriors have been slapped with 35 technical fouls, putting them in a first-place tie with the Suns and two ahead of Oklahoma City.
Green and Durant account for 25, with no other player with more than two (Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala).
“We want competitive people,” Myers said. “One of my favorite things about Steve and Draymond is their deep, deep competitiveness. That’s fantastic. That’s what we want. But at the same time, how do you channel that appropriately? How do I do it? How do they do it? How do any of us that have that inside of us live in that?
“You don’t want to tame someone who has that characteristic. But I think they both would say that they can work on that.”
There is a line that must be walked and managed. The Warriors at their best are a passionate bunch, with Green and Kerr particularly fiery. But if they can’t keep their emotional blazes under some degree of control, it could backfire.
“We need to represent our team in a better light,” Kerr said.
“Just play the game,” Durant said. “Worry about each possession and trying to be the best we can each possession, trying to win in possession. We did that tonight. That’s a step in the right direction and that’ll make up for a lot of problems if we just worry about trying to win each possession no matter what.
“Guys flew around tonight. We got stops. We blocked shots. It felt like we got back to getting our hands on basketballs, helping out a little bit more, getting steals. When we do that, we don’t have enough time to worry about refs.”