OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State star Draymond Green was suspended for Monday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals after the league assessed a Flagrant 1 foul from his scuffle with Cleveland's LeBron James.
The NBA announced the retroactive decision Sunday, issuing James a technical on the play late in Golden State's 108-97 victory Friday. A statement announcing the discipline said that Green "made unnecessary contact with a retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin" of James.
"There's no way you can say this is an acceptable act," Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Green has been on the cusp of trouble for much of the postseason. This is his fourth flagrant foul point, which resulted in the automatic suspension. He also has five technical fouls and was fined $25,000 for kicking Oklahoma City's Steven Adams in the groin during the Western Conference finals.
The Warriors lead the series 3-1 with a chance to clinch their second straight championship at home in Oracle Arena, but now they'll have to do it without one of their most important players.
"You have to do what you think is right for the play," VanDeWeghe said, "and unfortunately Draymond put himself in this position."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke to Green earlier in the postseason about keeping his emotions in check. Kerr declined to respond in specifics to the decision Sunday, saying that it's "irrelevant what any of us think — we have to accept the decision and move on."
His players were upset.
"There's no rhyme or reason to it," center Andrew Bogut said. "I've been in the same situation. I've been suspended before. I think it's like a lottery decision, like the draft. They just pull out a ping-pong ball and make a decision."
Green is averaging 15.3 points this postseason — third-most on the team behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — and a team-leading 9.6 rebounds along with nearly six assists.
While the NBA said the suspension was the result of the contact, there were also hard feelings among the players that lingered Sunday about what Green said to James during the scuffle. Thompson mentioned James' feelings might have been hurt by trash talk from Green, to which the four-time MVP James later laughed and said, "Ahh, my goodness," noting, "It's so hard to take the high road," and he wouldn't address those remarks further.
"I felt at that point in time it was a little outside of basketball," James said.
Green called Friday's incident "stuff that's said on the court." Yet James considered it all inappropriate and said he and his teammates reviewed the sequence on video.
"Draymond just said something that I don't agree with," James said. "I'm all cool with the competition. I'm all fine with that, but some of the words that came out of his mouth were a little bit overboard, and being a guy with pride, a guy with three kids and a family, things of that nature, some things just go overboard."
As his teammates went through shooting drills near the end of Sunday's workout, Green could be seen off to the side speaking to Warriors general manager Bob Myers before returning to practice.
The Warriors learned of the suspension late in the session, and Green wasn't made available to the media.
"He's not happy, no," Curry said. "But anybody in that situation, you can't expect them to be OK with the decision. I know he's going to give us positive energy. He's going to support us as a team the best way he can, even though he's not going to be on the floor, and we have to go out and get a win for him."
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed.