Now that there’s video of Golden State’s Draymond Green throwing a punch at teammate Jordan Poole, there is indisputable visual evidence that Green deserved a fine and suspension from regular-season games.
On Thursday, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers indicated Green would spend a couple of days away from the team, and that any other punishment would be handled internally.
That was before TMZ obtained video of the punch and published it Friday.
It was vicious, unnecessary and unprofessional, and Green is lucky he didn’t cause a significant injury. Before the video became public, the altercation was vague and it was difficult for someone not there to discern its severity.
The video exposed that, and that need for the Warriors to deliver a substantial punishment. (The Warriors have the additional problem of figuring out who leaked video of practice to TMZ).
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 7, 2022
The NBA league office generally doesn’t get involved in internal team altercations. In 2017, the Chicago Bulls suspended Bobby Portis for punching teammate Nikola Mirotic who sustained facial fractures and a concussion, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr was once on the receiving end of a punch from Michael Jordan when they played for the Bulls.
Because this is the highly competitive nature of pro sports, it’s easy (too easy) to chalk this up as “this is what happens sometimes.” But that’s specious reasoning. The Warriors organization should want, including for its players, a workplace free from that kind of behavior. Even in heated exchanges, it’s unacceptable to throw a punch, and the consequences should not be insignificant.
Just because Poole didn’t sustain a serious injury doesn’t mean Green should get off easy. Maybe the NBA should get involved and take the appropriate action that the Warriors were unable to do.
Beyond Green’s transgression, his actions put the Warriors in a difficult spot. They are the defending champions and going for their fifth title in nine seasons. It won’t be easy to repeat in a deeper and better Western Conference. Incidents like that can derail a best-case scenario.
Poole was a vital contributor last season and will be again as the Warriors contemplate a long-term extension with the 23-year-old guard who finished fourth for Most Improved Players in 2021-22. Green is also up for an extension. And while Warriors ownership is conscious of salary cap and paying an exorbitant luxury tax bill, Myers didn’t think the altercation was over contract situations but rather just normal trash talk that happens during practice.
Longtime Warriors Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala came to Poole’s defense.
“There’s nothing that warranted the situation (Wednesday),” Curry told reporters, a direct rebuke of Green. “I want to make that clear.”
Curry also doesn’t think the incident will harm the Warriors long term.
“It’s also something we feel like will not derail our season and what we’re trying to build,” Curry said. “That’s with Draymond a part of that.”
Curry is not just the face of the franchise, he is the voice of the Warriors, and his perspective and insight are important.
With Green, you take the good (prominent contributions to four NBA titles) and the bad (incident with then-teammate Kevin Durant and suspension in the 2016 NBA Finals).
He will get a chance soon to explain his actions and try to move the team forward.
If Green didn’t cross the point of no return with Poole and the Warriors, it’s fair to ask: When will he?
Follow NBA columnist Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Draymond Green punching Warriors teammate Jordan Poole should earn ban