Last week, Golden State Warriors big man Draymond Green delivered a much-later-than-expected first dangerous kick of the season.
Two days after being awarded a flagrant 1 foul that helped contribute to his team's loss to the Houston Rockets, Green railed against the league and its officials. His argument? That the league is in the wrong for not recognizing him as the first of the NBA's thousands of players to include kicks to opponents faces and groins as part of his natural shooting motion:
It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements. I’m not sure if they took kinesiology for their positions to tell you how your body is going to react when you get hit in a certain position. Or you go up and you have guys who jump to the ceiling. A lot of these guys that make the rules can’t touch the rim, yet they tell you how you’re way up there in the air which way you’re body (is supposed to go). I don’t understand that. That’s like me going in there and saying, "Hey, you did something on your paperwork wrong." I don’t know what your paperwork looks like. But it is what it is…. Let them keep telling people how their body react, I guess. They need to go take a few more kinesiology classes, though. Maybe they can take a taping class or functional movement classes. Let me know how the body works, because clearly mine don’t work the right way.
While he wasn't punished for this second consecutive boot, which was so obvious he had Kevin Durant in stitches, the league addressed Green's comments and history of kicking opponents with a message: The same rules apply to everyone.
You just don't see them applied to others because, again, no one else is enough of an asshole to regularly kick opponents in the face.
"Rules are discussed and agreed upon at the competition committee meetings consisting of owners, general managers, coaches, player reps and referee representatives," said Kiki Vandeweghe, the league's executive vice president of basketball operations who played in the league for 13 seasons and was a two-time All-Star. "They go through the same procedures for all rule changes.
"We noticed last year that more unnatural acts, such as arm flails and leg kicks, [occurred] for drawing attention of the referee. The competition committee looked at it and wanted to keep the rules fair for all teams, as well as make sure the health and safety of players were not jeopardized. We looked at it very carefully to take it out the game. Rules have to be applied to every player the same. There are no exceptions."
Green compared himself and his leg kicks to the arm-swinging of James Harden—who felt the wrath of Green's heel to his face on Thursday—claiming that Harden's initiating contact to draw fouls is a similar action that goes unpunished.
Vandeweghe noted a big difference: Harden's attempts at drawing fouls don't put opponents' health in danger.
"The big difference becomes safety and the potential of injuring somebody," he said. "That's the big difference. Players embellish contact to draw attention. It's gotten better since instituting the flopping rule on defense. But if a player flails his arms and strikes a player in the face, then that's a cause for concern. It's not one particular player or two. The competition committee spent a lot of time looking at this, and we decided that if the move doesn't justify the movement, then we have to act."
After kicking players in two straight games, the Indiana Pacers had better watch their asses during their game against Golden State on Monday night.