OAKLAND – Draymond Green’s suspension for Game 5 of the NBA Finals Monday night is, the Warriors believe, a direct result of LeBron James having tremendous clout within the league.
A number of players expressed that sentiment in off-the-record comments said exclusively to CSN Bay Area after practice Sunday at the team’s downtown facility.
“LeBron probably made the call,” one Warrior said of the decision announced by the NBA office on Sunday.
Another asked, and then answered, his question: “What do you think would have happened if the players involved were reversed? I think we all know.”
A third Warrior implied that there have been several other instances of aggression that did not receive such scrutiny, with one specifically citing a swipe by Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova that landed on the crotch of Warriors forward Andre Iguodala in Game 1.
There was even speculation that the league would lean toward extending the series for the obvious financial benefits.
Green was suspended for swiping toward James’ crotch in the fourth quarter of Game 4 in Cleveland. Green had been flung to the floor by James, who stepped over Green, who responded by taking a swipe while rising from the floor.
Though no foul was called for that action – or for Green getting to his feet and taking another swipe at James that did not connect – the play was reviewed by the league office and deemed a Flagrant-1 foul. Having already been assessed three such fouls, a fourth made Green subject to automatic suspension.
James after Game 4 immediately commented on the matter, saying he expected the NBA to review it and make a decision. The Warriors, meanwhile, based on previous incidents during The Finals, wondered if there was anything to review.
The league did in fact review it and reached a conclusion the Warriors have no choice but to accept.
“I'm proud of this team because we've been so great all year making adjustments, and this is just obviously a big adjustment we've got to make,” guard Klay Thompson said. “But it's another challenge for us, and we're going to embrace it, and we're going to accomplish it.”