Rudy Gobert didn't play the victim when he spoke to reporters following the Minnesota Timberwolves' 104-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Instead, the 7-footer hit Draymond Green with a few verbal jabs.
Green was ejected for putting Gobert in a headlock early in the first quarter, before either team had scored a bucket. Green received a five-game suspension for the action, which was announced later Wednesday.
Gobert's postgame comments will be left to marinate. The Timberwolves big man wasn't issued a technical foul during the chaos. While teammate Jaden McDaniels and Warriors' Klay Thompson were ejected, Gobert finished the game. He contributed nine points, 13 rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 35 minutes.
Repeatedly referring to Green's actions as "clown behavior,” Gobert said he couldn't react in the moment because he knew the Timberwolves needed him. Gobert also knew Green would attempt to get tossed from the contest when he learned Stephen Curry would miss the game due to a sprained right knee, he added.
“It’s kind of funny because before the game, I was telling myself that Steph is not playing, so I know Draymond is going to try and get ejected. Because every time Steph doesn’t play, he doesn’t want to play — it’s his guy Steph. He’ll do anything he can to get ejected.”
Green has 18 ejections in his professional career, many of which occurred in Curry's absence. His first seven ejections took place in games Curry played, a trend that shifted when the Warriors star was ruled out due to a broken hand on Nov. 11, 2019. After that, Green was sent to the locker room in four games — all of which Curry missed. The 33-year-old has five other ejections without Curry since January 2020.
In addition to saying Green avoids doing his job whenever his favorite coworker is out, Gobert dissed the Warriors veteran's chokehold attempt.
"He’s grabbing me, he’s grabbing me, he’s grabbing me, [but] the choke wasn’t good enough," Gobert said via The Athletic. "Yeah, it wasn’t enough for me to really have to [pass out]. But he tried. He tried really hard, but it wasn’t good enough to where I felt like I was really in danger of falling asleep or something like that."
Green attempted the wrestling-style submission on Gobert for about nine seconds as team personnel, players and security attempted to break the commotion up.
“It was a long time, and if he knew how to choke it could have been way worse,” Gobert added. “He tried to. His intention was to really take me out. And I kept my hands up the whole time just to show the officials that I wasn’t trying to escalate the situation.”
In contrast to Gobert's perspective of Green's misconduct, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr defended Green and Thompson in his postgame news conference.
"There's no way Klay Thompson should have been thrown out of the game. He's running up the floor, and [McDaniels] grabs his jersey, and he's pulling on him, so Klay pulls back," Kerr said before shifting his attention to Green. "If you watch the replay, Rudy had his hands on Klay's neck. And that's why Draymond went after Rudy."
"There's no way Klay Thompson should've been thrown out of the game."
Steve Kerr shares his perspective of the first-quarter skirmish pic.twitter.com/oOgK2utKyk
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 15, 2023
In making that decision, NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars said Green's "excessive and over-the-top actions" and detrimental conduct as a "repeat offender" were key.