There is a reason that professional wrestling has remained popular for decades even though the action is scripted. The business understands that in order to sell a story there has to be a hero and a heel. Cheering is fun, but jeering is cathartic. In team sports, the heel is automatically included like the charger with a new phone. You root for your favorite team against all of the others. However, there are some heels that transcend simply competing in a different city’s jersey.
Players such as Draymond Green have the ability of becoming the least favorite player of everyone who does not root for the Golden State Warriors — or is from Saginaw, Mich.
Green’s antics absolutely get on my nerves. The groin kicking bothered me a lot. Also, except for his press conference after video of him slugging Jordan Poole went viral last season, Green is never in a rush to apologize when his aggression objectively goes too far. Even with those flaws, I do appreciate his value to the NBA product. Without players who are willing to put Rudy Gobert in a headlock while surrounded by television cameras, the NBA would be far less interesting.
That act will cost Green nearly $1 million. On Wednesday night, the NBA announced that Green will be suspended for the Warriors’ next five games. Of course, the act of snatching Rudy Gobert by the neck is by itself worthy of punishment, but just like when Green was suspended during the playoffs for stomping Domantas Sabonis, the NBA gave him a lifetime achievement award.
Anyone who thinks an NBA punishment in 2023 is going to cause Green to change his reckless behavior towards opponents is sadly mistaken. He was suspended for an NBA Finals game seven years ago. A game in which the Warriors could have closed out LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, that 73-9 team ended up losing in seven games to a team in which Tristan Thompson and a 35-year-old Richard Jefferson were amongst the Cavs’ top-five in minutes played.
No suspension or fine will change how Green plays basketball. He was ejected from a game against the Cavaliers on Saturday. Afterwards, he posted on Instagram, “Don’t get a tech… blah blah blah. 12 years later and yall still trying to coach me on how to be ME?”
He is right. Green punched a teammate in the face at practice last season, and the video was leaked. The player who he punched had recently signed a $100-plus million contract. Poole will be spending the 2023-24 season with the Washington Wizards, and the Warriors inked Green to a second four-year, $100 million contract during the offseason.
His team values him and so do I. For the NBA to be at its best, there has to be a player who is the flesh equivalent of “I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves.” Green’s aggression, and limited regard for the well being of his opponents, has made him a star. Stephen Curry’s legendary offensive production is the main reason for the Warriors’ dynasty, but without Green’s aggression there is no way they win four championships in eight seasons.
Green knows his role with the Warriors and he has been outstanding in it. That role starts with his defense and offensive playmaking. To be a player in the NBA, especially one of consequence, expert basketball aptitude is required. Bill Laimbeer was named an All-Star four times with the Detroit Pistons. Three of those were consecutive, and the Pistons won only a single playoff series during that stretch. He earned those with no championship bump.
Dennis Rodman won Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991, several years before the first time he dyed his hair. In order to be a true NBA heel, players have to be able to do much more than clock their opposition.
Green is quotable, skilled and unrepentant about the way that he plays. I believe the NBA doesn’t mind it that much. He is a part of the league’s Ocean’s 11 play-in tournament commercial.
The league knows it needs its own version of Triple H to maximize interest. No one is currently better in that role than Green. As objectionable as his behavior can be, TMZ leaking that viral video of him punching Poole benefited all who make money off of the NBA. Green’s name rings out far past my favorite NBA nerd podcasts.
He was out of line on Tuesday when he put Gobert in a chokehold, but the league would be a worse place without those types of antics. Sometimes, All-Star caliber players need to also be loathed by fans for more of a reason than simply wearing a different jersey.
When there is consensus that one of the league’s better players is a habitual line stepper, that is all the more reason to watch the game. Admiring Curry is fine, but being angry with Green is a spice that gives the NBA meal a better taste.
I have no qualm with the league suspending Green for five games. He deserves it. Players should not choke their opposition. That is a ridiculous way to behave that very much deserves a stiff punishment.
However, if Green did not behave this way, the NBA would be far less entertaining.
Original source here
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