Dray-lemma: How the NBA suspended its values when discipling Green

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Draymond Green must have a big-time fan at 645 5th Avenue, also known as the headquarters for the National Basketball Association. Because the National Basketball Association’s approach to punitive measures seems conspicuously inconsistent when scrutinizing Green’s treatment vis-a-vis Ja Morant. Their mismanagement in their disciplinary approach indicates that players are held accountable to different standards.

Case in point: the NBA disciplinary committee’s recent verdicts involving Ja Morant and Green. Morant, a talented young point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, was handed a 25-game blow after posting a photo on social media with a gun—in a state where it’s legal for him to own one. Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors Green was handed a mere five-game suspension for an on-court assault involving the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert.

Green has routinely slipped through the NBA’s disciplinary web with undebatable incidents of aggression on and off the court. His physical altercations and blatant disregard for rules are occasionally slapped with meager fines, typically inconsequential amounts to a star performer such as Green. This practice raises questions about the NBA’s impartiality as a regulating body.

Morant’s 25-game suspension for exhibiting a firearm on social media starkly contrasts the NBA’s tolerance of Green’s behavior. The NBA’s disproportionate hand of discipline against Morant exemplified the correlation between a player’s prominence and the magnitude of their punishment.

These discrepancies are not just questionable but alarming, reverberating a message that the NBA practices selective enforcement of its policies, which is grossly unfair. Though Green’s contribution to the game should not be belittled, the comparison with Morant’s treatment reveals a preferential bias that warrants serious discussion.

The NBA has shown inconsistency in how it disciplines some of its players.

During a practice session on February 17, 2020, Green punched his teammate, Jordan Poole. The incident occurred after a heated exchange between the two players during a scrimmage. Despite the assault that would be criminally charged in any other workplace, Green did not face any formal punishment from the team or the league. The Warriors organization handled the matter internally, and the details of any disciplinary actions taken against Green were not made public.

“All athletes are equal. But some are more equal than others.”

This should make the NBA question: What are they valuing? Are they saying that posing with a legally owned firearm in online media warrants a stiffer penalty than physically assaulting an opponent on live TV? Is the NBA more concerned with performative violence or actual violence in its choice of punishments? The NBA made a dubious statement, probably inadvertently. It suggests that mere perception carries more weight than real substance.

But here’s the real question: Is this the message we want to send as a society and as a sport we so dearly love? Sports should be an arena of fairness, a yardstick for merit, and a place for safe competition.

Green has kicked an opponent in the groin, stomped on an opponent, knocked a teammate unconscious, and now grabbed an opponent by the throat and choked him, refusing to let go. The UFC wouldn’t tolerate this behavior, so why is Adam Silver satisfied with allowing the NBA to become a televised back-alley brawl?

Let’s clarify: The criticism here is less about the specific offenses and more about the sharply contrasting responses. Morant’s issue is complex and divisive. Gun control and ownership in America are much debated. However, while he used poor judgment to share the image, he complied with state laws. Green’s action, meanwhile, doesn’t necessitate much debate. His history of assault has left many, including his victim, shocked and puzzled.

The NBA has always prided itself as a progressive and socially conscious organization. It has taken strong stances on various issues, such as racial equality and player safety. However, the apparent leniency towards Green’s violent behavior contradicts these values. It sends a message that the league may prioritize star players over maintaining a safe and respectful environment for all.

Let’s hope the NBA reconsiders its decisions and aligns its actions with its mission—to “compete with intensity, lead with integrity, and inspire play.” Failing in this could erode the very foundation of our beloved sport, and that’s a loss none of us can afford. I can’t go back to watching politics.