NBA commissioner Adam Silver appeared on the Dan Patrick Show on Thursday and defended the league's decision to give Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green a flagrant foul, triggering a suspension for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Warriors lost that game 112-97.
Silver essentially said that, by the book, Green striking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James had to be considered a flagrant foul. The league office did not want an All-Star to be suspended during the Finals, but Green's prior flagrant fouls in the playoffs meant there was no other choice.
"The question becomes, 'Should we have not had given him a flagrant-1 knowing that the outcome would be for him to be suspended?' And I can only imagine what people would have said on the other side of the argument, had we not given the flagrant when we saw an act -- an act, to Draymond's credit, he acknowledged it, there was no dispute as to what happened. The referees did not see it on the floor. There's also no question they didn't see it and decide it wasn't a flagrant. They didn't see that act when he swiped over at LeBron and hit him in the groin area, and that is a flagrant our league. I will say in the case of Draymond, I think he knows it, that he wasn't about to get the benefit of the doubt, either, based on his prior conduct and and the purpose of that rule."
Patrick brought up TNT analyst Reggie Miller tweeting that Green wouldn't have been suspended if the series was tied 2-2 rather than Golden State leading 3-1 at the time, and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy disagreeing with the decision.
"In terms of Reggie or Jeff Van Gundy, I'm fine with the conversation of people want to disagree with it," Silver said, "but the theory behind having, in essence, progressive discipline by having it act in a cumulative way was to disincentivize guys from committing those acts over and over again. And it's one of the reasons why we don't reset after every round of the playoffs. We don't want guys to think, all right, I got a few flagrants I can get, oh great, now I can start over, I'll get a few flagrants more. As you know know that [is] the genesis of these rules. And, by the way, for those who have been criticizing these rules, they've been in place for about 20 years now. And the purpose of these rules was to cut down on the amount of fighting on the floor. As you know from the old days in the NBA, fights used to break out all the time."
Silver said that impacting the Finals is "the last thing we want to do," but maintained that the rules are there for a reason. The league was absolutely aware of Green's situation, but that could not impact its ruling.
"We have to call 'em as we see 'em," Silver said.
These comments echo what NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe has been saying since the news was announced. You might still believe there was more wiggle room than they're describing, and you might think that the league needs to take another look at its flagrant foul points system, but at least the commissioner is being transparent here.