Golden State coach Steve Kerr on Thursday backed the NBA’s decision to issue an indefinite suspension on Draymond Green, saying the open-ended ban gave the Warriors star a chance to change his ways.
Warriors stalwart Green was sanctioned by the NBA on Wednesday after his third ejection of the season on Tuesday, when he was tossed for violently swinging an arm into the head of Phoenix’s Jusuf Nurkic.
It was just the latest in a long line of incidents that have landed Green in disciplinary hot water over the years, and came just weeks after he was given a five-game ban for grabbing Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert in a headlock last month.
Kerr told reporters on Thursday ahead of the Warriors game with the Los Angeles Clippers that the NBA’s indefinite suspension of Green — a virtually unheard of sanction in the league — was the appropriate move.
“I think the suspension makes sense,” Kerr said. “To me, this is about more than basketball. It’s about helping Draymond.
“It’s an opportunity for Draymond to step away and to make a change in his approach, in his life. And that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Kerr said the league’s five-game suspension of Green after the Gobert incident last month justified the stiffer penalty for this week’s latest flashpoint.
“You don’t just say ‘We’re going to do five games and he’s going to be fine’,” Kerr said.
“The league did that with five games after the incident with Rudy. That’s not the answer, to pick a number.
‘The answer is to help’
“The answer is to help Draymond and give him the help he needs, give him the opportunity to make a change that will not only help him and help our team, but help him for the rest of his life.”
“It’s not just about an outburst on the court. This is about his life. Someone who I believe in, someone who I have known for a decade, who I love for his loyalty, his commitment, his passion, his love for his team-mates, his friends and his family.
“We’re trying to help that guy. Because the one who choked Rudy, the one who took a wild flail at Jusuf, the one who punched Jordan (Poole) last year, that’s the guy who has to change. And he knows that.
“Look at the past year and what’s happened — it’s clear he needs the opportunity to change. And that’s what an indefinite suspension gives him the opportunity for.”
Kerr and the Warriors have attracted criticism in the past for how they have handled Green’s disciplinary indiscretions, notably when he was only fined by the franchise — rather than suspended — for punching team-mate Poole in a pre-season practice last year.
Prominent ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith has suggested that Warriors star Steph Curry bears part of the responsibility for not bringing Green into line as a senior member of the Golden State locker room.
Kerr however hit back at the criticism of Curry’s leadership.
“For anyone to question Steph Curry’s leadership, it’s actually kind of sickening,” Kerr said. “I saw some of that yesterday. It was disgusting. You’re talking about one of the finest human beings I have ever been around.
“But that’s the climate that we live in … Like, really? That’s the angle you’re going to take? You’re going to question Steph Curry’s leadership?”
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