Just when you begin to lose faith in the league to make the correct call, the NBA surprises you with some reasoned thinking.
Draymond Green has not been suspended for his kick to Steven Adams in game 3, and despite outcry from fans who wanted the league to make an example out of Green, the NBA refused to cave to knee-jerk reactions from spectators who seemed to be a little too giddy to watch Golden State fall off their pedestal.
So much of the vitriol seemed to come from the same people who subtly applauded Stephen Curry’s injuries earlier in the playoffs, pleased with some type of twisted justice in a brash team being humbled by unforeseen circumstances.
Like the last time adversity was thrusted upon the Warriors, the criticisms can be deconstructed through the revelation of hypocritical stances.
The replay showed no conclusive intention on Green’s part to kick Adams specifically in the groin. It was an irresponsible play that far too many players in the league use to draw contact.
Flailing limbs around runs the risk of hurting a defender, and it happened to Adams. James Harden is an example that comes to mind who will use any means necessary to draw contact.
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It could have easily been a player with a more tranquil reputation, but it happened to be a fiery instigator like Green.
However, there’s a big difference between irresponsible limb flailing and basically accusing Green of lacking the moral integrity to not intentionally hurt an opponent in one of the most cowardly ways possible. The replay doesn’t show that clear intent, no matter how much fans who hate Green’s attitude and demeanor want it to.
Green’s passion on the court is a lot like Dennis Rodman, but Rodman was involved in a groin kicking incident that did show clear intent. The play had ended, he fell out of bounds, he paused for a moment, and then emphatically kicked a cameraman.
Anybody who watches that footage will know what an intentional kick to the groin on a basketball court looks like. Green recklessly flailed his limbs and hit Adams in a vulnerable area; Rodman reared back and struck a cameraman with his foot after staring at him for a few seconds.
The relationship that basketball fans have to the 1990s Chicago Bulls, and specifically Michael Jordan, is worthy of psychological study. I’m apart of it as well.
It’s likely due to a combination of athletic artistry from those teams and the brainwashing effects of commercialization at a time when sports marketing was really hitting their stride in shaping the perception of the league and its players.
The funny thing is that a strong case could be made that Jordan isn’t even the best player of all time. Nobody feels as passionately about defending Bill Russell’s legacy because the majority of basketball fans today didn’t get to witness him play. It’s nostalgia at its most powerful.
LeBron James has faced an outrageous amount of criticism throughout his time in the league, and while some of it has certainly been brought on by immature choices on his part, the biggest thing he seems to be guilty of is narcissistic behavior and egomaniacal tendencies.
It’s hard to blame him; no modern athlete has ever been more hyped up before even entering a professional league.
For all of his minor flaws, it’s important to keep in perspective the type of human being James appears to be. He’s never done anything that’s considered heinous off the court, and seems like a nice enough guy, all things considered.
Yet if you read and hear some of the chatter about him, you’d think he was this awful abomination of a man who has no worth besides committing the atrocities of faking fouls and living a somewhat extravagant lifestyle off the court fitting of a famous athlete who is young and wealthy.
The interesting part of the James dynamic is if you listen to the abhorrence from fans long enough, it always seems to come back to Michael Jordan. Like because James didn’t do something that Jordan did, one is the inferior player and the other is a demigod.
The Warriors have officially entered the same territory that James has been in for a while now, with their record-breaking 73 wins this season.
Media figures harmlessly debated whether the 2016 Warriors were better than the 1996 Bulls leading up the the Warriors’ eclipsing of the wins mark, and a large population seemed to take it as an affront that anybody would dare mention a team in 2016 in the same breath as a Michael Jordan Bulls team.
Instead of focusing their anger on a hyperbolic 24/7 sports media always looking to crown new heroes, fans mistakenly begin to hate the human beings that the media glorifies. Maybe Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Draymond Green should be spared the loathing that’s truly meant for ESPN and similar conglomerates.
It gets more fascinating when Jordan’s own character is dissected. Jordan was really one of the last globally influential athletes to be largely protected by the media, and now that Derek Jeter has retired, it may never happen again.
It looked as though Stephen Curry was reaching that status, and perhaps the media does like him, but social media platforms have allowed fans to voice their opinion so vocally that no athlete seems immune to critique.
One hypothetical that’s so enticing to ponder is how fans would have treated Jordan if Facebook and Twitter had existed during his playing career. So much more is known about athletes today, and the details of a book like “The Jordan Rules” would have surely blown up much greater in the internet world we know today than in 1992.
Curry is labeled as arrogant and brash, yet Jordan seems to get a pass on this same issue for some reason. This was a guy who famously clashed with teammates, and often tormented them through nearly sociopathic behavior. It’s strange how Jordan’s flaws aren’t illuminated by those who evoke his name to praise his mental tenacity.
James is weak if he defers to teammates. Jordan could command a team, yet most of his teammates had strained relationships with him.
Often times Jordan evokers will complain that it’s such a finesse, soft league nowadays. They want a return to Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, Rick Mahorn, and Bill Laimbeer ruggedness, yet are the first ones to hurl condemnation towards Draymond Green on being a dirty, despicable player.
It’s hard to have it both ways, because it seems like they want a league full of more players like Draymond Green while simultaneously hating him.
Hypocrisies like that lead one to believe that it’s simply a case of romanticizing the past without fully appreciating the greatness of modern basketball. One day James will retire, and it seems unfortunate that the fans of today have missed a chance to embrace him for the truly remarkable talent he is.
Once he’s gone, the myth of LeBron James may take off like never before, because there’s something about human nature that clings to positivity and seems to want to remember the best of people.
Applaud the league for doing the right thing in this circumstance in regards to Green. Imagine a top player being removed from a highly influential game due to nothing but his questionable reputation, because the action is far from indisputable evidence of intent to kick another player in the groin.
Fans may decry this outcome, but look at it in a different way: wouldn’t it be worse for the league to have stepped in and overreached its authority by subjectively removing a marquee player from a game with championship repercussions?
Game 4 is going to be passionately charged, and the league should be praised for getting out of its own way and letting the greatest athletes in the world decide the outcome of a premier matchup.