NBA News and Notes: Warriors' Draymond Green suspended for Game 5, Magic Johnson's honorary title removed

June 13, 2016

In the DSH's latest NBA News and Notes report, we take a look at the NBA's suspension of Draymond Green, and also read between the lines of the Lakers removal of Magic Johnson's honorary title from the organization:

NBA suspends Draymond Green for Game 5 of Finals

In another sign of just how soft the league's powers-that-be have made the NBA, Golden State Warriors' forward Draymond Green has been assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league office review and will serve a one-game suspension without pay for accruing his fourth Flagrant Foul point of the 2016 postseason.

According to Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, NBA Basketball Operations, Green will serve his suspension Monday, June 13 during Game 5 of The Finals at Oracle Arena.

The incident occurred when Green made what the NBA deemed to be "unnecessary" contact with a retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James with 2:48 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 108-97 win in Game 4 of The Finals at Quicken Loans Arena.

James has been assessed a technical foul upon league office review for his role in the altercation, which included a physical taunt, i.e. stepping over Green while he was on the ground.

Under league rules, any player who accumulates four flagrant foul points over the course of the playoffs will be automatically suspended for one game, and every additional flagrant foul will result in either a one-game suspension (for a Flagrant Foul 1) or a two-game suspension (for a Flagrant Foul 2).

The suspension shows two key flaws with the current state of the rules.  First, the cumulative points system, meant to deter physical play, disproportionately penalizes those teams which advance deep into the playoffs because the points do not reset for each series.

“The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game” said VanDeWeghe. “While Draymond Green’s actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a standalone act, the number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension for Game 5.”

Second, it shows just how soft the play on the court has become since the NBA's glory days of ultimate competition in the 1980's.  Green's act certainly was not a basketball play, and was fairly dirty in nature, but also was one of those veteran moves that has been frequently observed during playoff basketball over the years.  In the old days, this incident would have been a double technical and a simple "play on."

Not only is the modern game far less physical due to the creation of several new rules meant to encourage perimeter play, but in this case, those rules have caused the ultimate negative sanction for fans and spectators -- the absence of one of the league's better players during no less than the NBA Finals.

Part of the intrigue of any great series is the narrative that unfolds from game to game.  How does one player respond to a bad game, or to the challenge brought by an opposing player?  How does that opposing player then pay him back in the following game? This suspension eliminates that anticipation for the fans.

On an even more practical level, the decision robs the Warriors of Green -- a three-point shooter, excellent passer, and a versatile, elite defender -- who will be difficult to replace.  It also gives Cleveland a great chance to force a Game 6.

The NBA's effort to reduce the physicality of the game will actually cause fans to miss out on seeing some great potential playoff trash-talk and competition between Green and James.  And that is a shame.

Lakers distance themselves from Magic Johnson

In a disturbing press release for local Southern California fans, the Los Angeles Lakers have announced that Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the ultimate Laker, has asked the team to eliminate his honorary title of Vice President, and to remove his name from the team staff directory in publications and other sources.

According to the Lakers, the change is being made in hopes of clarifying any confusion over Johnson's involvement with or representation of the team.

"Earvin will always be a revered and beloved member of the Lakers family, but he does not have a position or role with the organization at this time," said team spokesman John Black. "He is not an advisor or a consultant, and his opinions, comments and social media posts are solely his, and do not represent or reflect those of Lakers ownership or management. Hopefully this will eliminate any confusion over this issue in the future."

Quite frankly, nobody really was confused about Johnson's social media posts.  Johnson has been critical, and rightfully so, about the incompetence of Laker management, specifically Jim Buss.

Nor did any reasonable person need clarity as to which organization formally was affiliated with Johnson -- unquestionably it was the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Johnson's media posts have caused Buss to react in the past, and those reactions have brought media attention to Magic.

Johnson undoubtedly bleeds purple and gold, and in what appears to be a gracious act, he has formally had the Lakers remove his title, so that it does not appear -- perhaps to potential free agents -- that a member of the franchise has gone rogue.

The removal of his honorary title also should eliminate any potential tampering complaints, as Magic publicly has suggested which free agents the Lakers should pursue prior to the start of the official free agent signing period.

The real issue here is not that Magic's comments are inflammatory or that they could be viewed as tampering, but that they need to be made in the first place.

In other words, but for the incompetence of Laker management, Magic would never need to be critical and voice his insightful opinions.  The fact that he anticipates having to make more critiques on the Lakers in the future, and that he needs to remove his title in advance prior to voicing such views, only demonstrates how little confidence he has in the current regime of Jim Buss.

Such a move would have appalled Jerry Buss, Jim's father.  This is Magic Johnson, after all.  He is the Laker franchise.  On general principle, Jim Buss should be thanking Magic a hundred times a day just for helping to put that silver spoon in his mouth.

Johnson's critiques are spot-on and accurate, as Buss clearly got the job through nepotism and probably could not obtain even the most basic entry level position in the sport were he to seek employment elsewhere.  Ask yourself, would Buss be hired as a NCAA Division I assistant coach, or even as a NBA D-League video coordinator by any other employer?

Johnson, unlike the local media who scapegoated ex-coach Byron Scott, has kept the spotlight properly on Buss and his horrific roster compositions over the last three years.  To those Laker fans with any perspective on team history, the Jim Buss era is starting to feel almost like the disastrous Frank McCourt regime over at Chavez Ravine.

As for the alleged tampering issue, the mere fact that Johnson has been forced to publicly post his advice about free agents infers that he truly has no influential role within the organization, otherwise he would not have to communicate with the team in such a public manner.  Instead, he could simply pick up the telephone and advise the Lakers brass himself.

Which brings us to another question.  Why aren't the Lakers soliciting Magic's opinion on basketball matters?

Magic quite simply was the smartest basketball player in NBA history.  He always was two steps ahead of everyone else on the court mentally when he played, and unlike Jim Buss, he knows and understands the game. He could provide valuable insight to Buss, even as a mere consultant, yet this franchise treasure is completely underutilized.

When presentations are made to free agents, Buss instead chooses to fill the room with businessmen, so that those free agents hear all the non-basketball benefits of living in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, such an approach not only sends the message that the team cares about other collateral things than winning, but also dooms the team to land only those players who likewise are drawn to such superficial off-the-court interests.

Players who want titles, such as LaMarcus Aldridge, will walk away from the table after hearing such hogwash.

If Buss took out the suits and put Magic in that same room, the team instantly would have the world's most charismatic, no-nonsense Laker pitchman on the planet.  Yet, Buss continually declines to use Magic's expertise.

Should this formal departure allow Magic additional freedom to call out the incompetence so obvious to anyone with a pulse, then this move should be welcomed.

But it also should be viewed with caution.  The real problem is that the Lakers apparently have turned a deaf ear to Magic because the only way he seems to be able to provide any input to the team is through social media.

The fact that Jim Buss does not consult regularly with Johnson about basketball matters should itself be viewed as a continual act of incompetence on his part.

Tyronn Lue fined

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, it was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Lue made his comments during the postgame press conference following the Golden State Warriors’ 108-97 victory over the Cavaliers in Game 4 of The Finals on June 10 at Quicken Loans Arena.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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