Photo Credit: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
If you haven’t seen the video, I don’t recommend watching it. If you like watching those kinds of videos, I’m sure you’ve already seen it.
Just a couple weeks ago, in a training camp practice, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green punched Jordan Poole.
Now, if you haven’t seen the video, here’s what you’re probably thinking: “Oh, it was probably just a scuffle.”
If by “scuffle” you mean a full-effort, nothing-held-back haymaker, then yes. If you thought this was a classic on-court/on-field brawl, you are mistaken.
Draymond Green attacked Jordan Poole.
It wasn’t a misunderstanding, it wasn’t a joke, it wasn’t “boys will be boys.”
Draymond Green tried to take Poole's head off.
If you haven’t been following the NBA, here’s what you're probably thinking: “Well, he's at the very least suspended.” And it would make total sense that you would think that.
But he's not. The NBA didn’t suspend Green. They laid the responsibility of punishing Green on the Warriors front office and ownership. They didn’t suspend Green, either. So now…
A fine? That’s it? And the amount, we will probably never know, unless Green decides to blab on his podcast how much cash he had to pony up. I take it back; he'll absolutely blab at some point.
But why just a fine? I'm just as dumbfounded on this topic as our current president is on just about every topic. Since when is deliberately and maliciously striking a player considered tolerable? How can those two co-exist on the court together?
Oh, by the way, the season’s started. Green is out there. In the season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, he and Poole were on the court together. Poole even assisted Green on a layup. Big whoop.
And what makes it even more frustrating is the bizarre and utter lack of widespread concern about the incident (other a million voyeuristic views on the internet). In many ways, this is similar to the 2014 incident where a recording of Ray Rice knocking out his wife on an elevator was leaked to the public. This incident rightfully fueled a firestorm of indignation. Rice never played in the NFL again.
There’s a convention that this kind of behavior is normal, or at least, acceptable. It’s not something to make a big fuss about. “Boys will be boys,” and all that.
But this is different. Green attacked his teammate. This is a problem.
And for the record, anyone who thinks that it’s stupid, or silly, or pathetic, or unreasonable to compare how someone might get treated in their line of work if they attacked their co-worker during an argument to a pro-athlete who does the same thing, you’re full of shit.
It’s of course reasonable to compare professions. Most people would go to jail doing that. In Ohio, you could go to jail for six months. It’s a pretty ubiquitous punishment in most states.
It’s not unreasonable to ask pro-athletes to be held to a higher standard. Yes, their jobs require almost fanatical competitiveness. Yes, they are often exerting physically at an extremely high level. Yes, aggressiveness is practically a prerequisite.
But there are so, so, so, so, so many jobs that require those same traits, and yet you see regular, everyday people not battering their poor cubical mates.
Imagine a lawyer giving a right hook to a witness on the stand. Trial lawyers are some of the most competitive people on this planet. They are face-to-face with some of the worst human beings imaginable - and we still expect, demand, require them to keep their composure.
Imagine a firefighter uppercutting the captain because he canceled Taco Tuesday. Does that job not require extreme physical fitness? Are they not in strenuous, stressful, even dangerous situations? Do we not expect them to refrain from bashing one another during a rescue?
Imagine a soldier throat-chopping his comrade. There’s no job in the world that demands more aggressiveness, and I can guarantee you that any soldier who was that vicious would be reprimanded severely, if not outright discharged. It’s that serious.
This is the point: we don’t have to let Draymond Green off the hook here. He screwed up. Royally.
There is no way his relationship with Poole can be repaired. They might be able to mend things enough to play basketball professionally, but how could Poole ever feel comfortable alone in a room with that guy?
It makes no difference how successful, how marketable, or how impactful any of these pro-athletes are. We are allowed to hold them to a higher standard. Our expectations for their behavior should be as high as it is for anyone else with that kind of privileged lifestyle - higher even, because it’s hard to imagine a more privileged life than being a pro-athlete.