Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green began league-mandated counselling and is expected to miss at least three weeks, The Athletic reported on Dec 18.
The 33-year-old was suspended indefinitely for striking Phoenix Suns centre Jusuf Nurkic during a National Basketball Association (NBA) game on Dec 12 in which the Suns won 119-116 at their home court.
Golden State general manager Mike Dunleavy revealed that the team and Green worked with the NBA on setting the terms of the suspension.
The NBA’s statement said Green will have to meet “certain league and team conditions before he returns to play”.
Dunleavy and Green’s agent, Rich Paul, then met with Green to discuss counselling options.
“We understand there’s a punishment that will take place, but this is also about helping somebody,” Dunleavy said.
“They (the NBA) 100 per cent agreed. So did Draymond.”
Green maintained that the arm swing that caught Nurkic in the face and led to his ejection was an accident, but he was still thrown out of the game for delivering his wild open-hand punch.
Nurkic was defending Green and had a hand on Green’s hip when the latter turned and swung and made contact. The blow sent Nurkic down to the floor and an offensive foul was called on Green with 8min 23sec left in the third quarter.
Nurkic was scathing of the incident, saying Green “needs help”.
It was Green’s third ejection of the young season. He also made headlines on Nov 14 when he was ejected for putting Minnesota Timberwolves centre Rudy Gobert in a headlock during an on-court scrum.
That led to a five-game suspension for Green, who was first thrown out of a game this season on Nov 11 after being tagged with two technical fouls against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Given his “repeated history of unsportsmanlike acts”, the NBA suspended him indefinitely following the latest incident.
An indefinite suspension is an almost unheard-of sanction by the NBA, which more commonly issues bans for a fixed number of games.
Examples of recent hefty suspensions issued to players include the 25-game ban handed to Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant in June after he was seen flashing a gun in an online video, and the 30-game ban given to Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets in April over domestic violence allegations.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a staunch defender of Green over the years, admitted that his player needed help.
“To me this is about more than basketball,” he said.
“I think it’s an opportunity for Draymond to step away and make a change in his approach, in his life… That’s not something you say ‘OK, we’ll do five games’ and then he’s gonna be fine. The league did five games after the incident with Rudy. That’s not the answer.
“The answer is to help Draymond, give him the help he needs. Give him the opportunity to make a change that will not only help him, help our team, but help him for the rest of his life. This is not just about an outburst on the court. This is about his life.”