The painful history of groin shots involving 2016 NBA Playoff stars

Ball Don't Lie

Surely you've seen the nut shot heard 'round the world by now.

As the NBA mulls Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green's status for Game 4 — following his leg's second straight unwelcome visit to Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams' groin — we need look no further than hours earlier for the last disciplinary measure to protect the NBA's crown jewels.

After all, seldom-used Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones earned himself a one-game ban for a tap to Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo's testicles that was tough to detect, unless you're Biyombo. 

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But Green is far from seldom-used. He's Golden State's most important player not named Stephen Curry, and his loss for Game 4 could spell a third loss in four tries against Oklahoma City. In which case, uh-oh.

So, let's dive a little deeper into whether Green warrants a suspension for kicking Adams' rocks, and if that means we have to keep a straight face while exploring the exploits of a different form NBA cherry picking, then so be it. And we're not talking about Dwight Howard giving former Houston Rockets teammate Isaiah Canaan an unexpected love tap on the bench or erstwhile Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer accidentally treating referee Danny Crawford's sore spot like a speed bag during a celebration.

(Some celebration, bemoans Crawford.)

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We're strictly discussing the sort of mano-a-mano cojone contact that occurs between two basketball players in the heat of battle. The NBA history of huevos barbaros is a storied one, and we could regale you with tales of every tater tap in league lore — like Dwyane Wade's kick to Ramon Sessions' cobblers, Shane Battier's knee to Roy Hibbert's nads and Marcus Smart's punch to Matt Bonner's plums — but we'll limit our discussion to groin grabs involving players from these playoffs who lived to tell their story.

Jan. 28, 2011: Kevin Garnett taps Channing Frye's twins.

Garnett got ejected for bumping Frye's bag during a regular-season meeting, but did not get suspended. While KG left without speaking to reporters that night, Doc Rivers did offer up an explanation of his own.

“That would only be the 20th time that it probably happened in the game,” said Rivers, who was also ejected that night for arguing with officials. “You see it all the time, guys poking at your stomach. If that is what happened, then he is really a tough guy.”

Nov. 4, 2014: J.R. Smith jabs Glen Rice Jr.'s juniors.

It was a heck of a way to welcome in 2014-15, and Smith earned a one-game suspension for this blow to Rice's boys just four games into the season. He was rewarded with a trade to Cleveland two months later.

"I was trying to clear space to get as close to the basket as I could to get the shot off," Smith told reporters in the aftermath. "It definitely wasn't anything intentional. I saw him on the floor. I was trying to figure out what happened. Was he bleeding or something or what? The ref didn't call it. The ref called a foul on him. I didn't really see what happened."

March 1, 2014: James Harden kicks LeBron James' coin purse.

Harden received a Flagrant 1 foul and a one-game suspension for this after-the-whistle foot to LeBron's family jewels during a regular-season meeting in which the two superstars scored a combined 70 points.

"It's a reaction," Harden told the media. "They called a flagrant. Next play we moved on."

March 3, 2013 and May 11, 2014: Serge Ibaka's smacks to Blake Griffin's spuds.

Ibaka received a Flagrant 1 foul for this jackhammer to Griffin's jawbreakers. The call was later upgraded to a Flagrant 2, and Ibaka got himself a $25,000 fine, but avoided suspension in the regular season.

"He hit my hands away,” Ibaka said after his first meeting with Griffin's goolies. “He’s strong, so when he grabs you, your jersey or whatever, and you try to defend yourself and rebound. So maybe you can do some move, not to hurt, (but) just to get good position, but then something happens where you get hurt in the paint. It’s not anything where I want to try to hurt him. I’m not that kind of person. I just try to play hard, and that’s it."

Ibaka again avoided suspension — and even a foul this time around — for walloping Griffin's watermelons as a result of Kendrick Perkins push to his back in Game 4 of a Western Conference semifinals series.

"No punch thrown," explained Ibaka. "I was in traffic and one of my teammates pushed me from the back. Then I tried to fall and [Griffin] was already up. It was nothing like that."

May 29, 2014: Russell Westbrook goes Bruce Lee on Tim Duncan's beans.

In Game 5 of another Western Conference finals series, this time against the San Antonio Spurs two years ago, the Thunder again found themselves on the opposite side of the on-ball defense. Only, Duncan was actually whistled for finding himself on the receiving end of Westbrook's karate kick to the klackers, and the only explanation offered afterwards was the Spurs star's straightforward explanation to the referees:

"He kicked me in the nuts," said Duncan. 

April 4, 2015: Shaun Livingston dings Dirk Nowitzki's doodads.

Livingston's uppercut to Dirk's under region also received a Flagrant 1 foul and a one-game suspension.

"He kind of sat back to create space with his lower area, and it was just bad timing," Livingston said afterward. "Eleven years in the league, I haven't had a dirty play. I haven't made a name in this league by playing that way. It looked worse than it actually was. It's Dirk Nowitzki. It's a Hall of Fame player. You don't do that to somebody like that."

March 9, 2016: Chris Paul's push to Kevin Durant's pods.

Somehow, Paul escaped any discipline for backhanding Durant's stepchildren, even scoring as a result. So, the L.A. Clippers star needed no explanation, even if Durant's apricots could've used an apology.


As you can see, the NBA's discipline measures for a groin greeting is as varied as the offenses themselves, and the league has shown no bias toward stars or altered its policy during the postseason. Harden earned a one-game ban for a clearly intentional sneaker to LeBron's sweetmeats during the regular season, and Livingston got the same for a less blatant tug on Dirk's teabag in the playoffs.

These few blows to the ballocks spanned three league executives in charge of doling out the discipline, the most recent of which was on the desk of current NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, who let Paul's swipe at Durant's swingers slide, so perhaps that's reason for optimism in Golden State. But let us not forget the real victims, and say a prayer for Adams' apples before Game 5.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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