Dame and Shaq were among the voices coming to Green’s defense
The Golden State Warriors lost to the Sacramento Kings, 114-106, in Game 2 of the teams’ first-round series and are now down 0-2 in the playoffs for the first time in the Steph Curry/Splash Brothers era. In the process, Draymond Green was ejected for his involvement in yet another controversial incident. Early in the fourth quarter, Green and Domantas Sabonis were among a group of players going after a rebound.
Sabonis ended up falling down, and while he was on the ground he grabbed hold of Green’s leg. Green responded by shaking his leg free, then stomping on Sabonis’ mid-section as he tried to head back the other way.
After the referees went to the monitor to review the incident, Sabonis was assessed a technical foul and Green given a Flagrant 2 and thrown out of the game.
While Sabonis described the indcident as “playoff basketball,” Green was more vocal.
“My leg got grabbed, second time in two nights,” Green said. “Refrees just watch it. I gotta land my foot somewhere, and I’m not the most flexible person so it’s not stretching that far. I can only step so far and pulling my leg away, so it is what it is.
“The explanation was I stomped too hard.”
In the aftermath, a number of current and former players shared their opinion on whether Green should have been ejected from the game. Here’s a look:
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is a frequent Tweeter and weighed in immediately. He joked that it should have been a take foul on Sabonis and said that he didn’t believe Green stepped on the Kings forward intentionally.
Take foul on Sabonis … I didn’t think Dray tried to step down … that’s just how his balance ended up 🤷🏽♂️…— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) April 18, 2023
“I’m not gonna sit up here and be a hypocrite. I would have done the same thing [as Green], O’Neal said on “Inside the NBA” when the panel discussed the incident. O’Neal was the only one of the four who didn’t have a problem with what Green did. Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith were all in agreement that Green’s actions weren’t acceptable.
“Don’t be grabbing me, because what am I gonna do?” O’Neal continued. “If I stay there and just try to run forward, I’ll fall. You gotta get him up off you. And if you up off me and you in the way, you might get stomped on. Was it a dirty play? Of course it was a dirty play. But, hey, don’t grab me and this won’t happen.”
Former Sixth Man of the Year Eddie Johnson, who played 17 seasons in the league and now works as a radio host, didn’t understand what Green was thinking. He also noted the mistake of making a move like that when NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance.
Yes Sabonis grabbed his leg, but why would you stomp a man in his chest when your team would have gained a point closer and have the ball and then act up in full view of the commish? #kingsvswarriors https://t.co/4gY7bSBYWp— Eddie A Johnson (@Jumpshot8) April 18, 2023
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr put on a MasterClass in diplomacy by saying during his postgame press conference that he didn’t see the play live and hadn’t seen a replay so he couldn’t fully comment.
“I didn’t see the play live, and then I didn’t see the replay,” Kerr said. “I asked [referee] Zach Zarba, he told me. I was busy with getting the team ready. One of the coaches told me he might get ejected, so I was trying to prepare for what was next.”
Sabonis surely wasn’t happy about getting stomped on, but he refused to add any feul to the fire during his on-court interview after the win. This was a veteran move by Sabonis to avoid creating any billboard material for the Warriors heading into Games 3 and 4 in San Francisco.
“It’s playoff basketball,” Sabonis said. “Look at the fans, this is it. We’re here to fight. Every time we step on the floor we’re gonna give everything for our teammates and the franchise. We’re both fighting for the rebound. We fell on each other, stuff happens, it’s basketball, we gotta move on, next play.”
In perhaps the least surprising reaction, Kings head coach Mike Brown had no doubt in his mind that Green deserved to be ejected for the stomp. He also questioned if there should be an additional punishment handed down by the league.
“It’s a Flagrant 2 for sure, and it will be interesting to see what the NBA does after they review it … It was a pretty hard stomp.”
Warriors guard Klay Thompson would not fully defend Green, but he also wondered what his teammate was supposed to do in the situation. (For the record, Green was not running at full speed when Sabonis first grabbed his leg; he was standing still.)
“What are you gonna to do someone grabs your foot at full when you’re running full speed?” Thompson said. “That’s not cool. I’m not saying what Draymond did was right but you can’t just grab somebody’s foot taking off in a full sprint.”
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