Monday, June 13, 2016

The NBA's double standards

Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors just got a raw deal. He'll be suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals -- and for no good reason.

Due to previous antics (technical foul protocol), Green found himself in the unenviable position of being on his last chance. One more screw-up, and bang, a suspension. But the screw-up never really happened. 

Lebron James had flung him to the floor -- no call -- and then stepped over him, making contact with Green's head in the process. Still no call. Green got up and flung an arm in frustration -- striking nothing but air. It wasn't even an attempted punch, but it just so happened to be in Lebron's direction. After league review much later, the suits of the NBA slapped him with a flagrant foul -- that never occurred in the first place. Bang, he's out for what many thought would be Golden State's close out game to repeat as champions. With Green removed from the line-up, no doubt the odds makers quickly scrambled to adjust their point spreads. And it likely breathed a little life into the Cleveland Cavaliers, who appeared to be seriously on the ropes of elimination.

But the whole charade was/is wrong and blatantly speaks of double standards. They have long been evident in many pro sports, but none more so than NBA basketball. The "stars" can get away with things "average" players cannot. Here's a few examples.......

Michael Jordan often took three, four, even five steps after his last dribble on his way to a dunk. Any other player would get whistled for travelling. But not MJ.

Shaquille O'Neal would routinely knock a stationary defender back a foot, then another foot, then yet another before slamming the ball into the basket. He had committed three obvious offensive fouls -- but no call.

Kobe Bryant could travel, palm the ball, or run over a defender -- but never a whistle. It was always the other guy's fault, even if he was trying to get out of the way. Conversely, just touch or breathe on Kobe, and an opponent would get hit with an imaginary foul.

A quarter of a century ago -- time flies -- Detroit Piston Bill Laimbeer was the poster child of being the victim of such blatant double standards. A white guy that stood 6-11, Laimbeer could be completely stationary with his arms raised as another player bulldozed him on the way to the basket. Guess who got called for the foul? It was outrageous. But Laimbeer was never considered a "dignitary" in the NBA, much less a media darling. So he routinely not only took the physical abuse but got whistled for the foul as well. A double whammy of gross injustice.

In this latest case with Green and James, one is left to wonder if the league -- and by extension, the refs -- might be complicit in some shady dealings.

After all, outside of the Bay area in California, Draymond Green isn't liked much. Meanwhile, Lebron James has long been considered the knight in shining armor by many across the land. One has been painted a villain and the other a hero.

The NBA itself, TV folks, sponsors, and the media would like nothing better than for the Finals to go the full seven games. A ton of future money and sound bytes are at stake. If the Warriors were to close out the Cavaliers in five games, all that would be lost.

And hey, like them or not, on some level it's hard to root against any team from Cleveland. That city hasn't experienced a professional championship -- in any sport -- since Jim Brown was playing for the Cleveland Browns, three years before the first Super Bowl happened. While there's been fifty years of Super Bowls, Cleveland never got to one, nor have their other teams won anything else along the line. It would be nice to see that city finally experience some glory. Maybe.

What better way to tilt the odds a bit in their favor than by suspending a star player for the defending champion Golden State on a bogus call to begin with? Most thought the Dubs would easily dispatch the Cavs in Game 5. Series over, and let the sniping and second guessing begin regarding the personnel of the Cavaliers.

But without Draymond Green, the Cavs actually have a decent shot at winning Game 5 to make the series 3-2, with Game 6 being back in Cleveland. Another win there and, bingo, the super-hyped Game 7 would happen. You can almost hear the major cha-chings that would come with such a scenario.

Yet let there be no mistake. Draymond Green was the victim of a double standard. Clearly, Lebron James was the instigator and major culprit in this instance, but he got to skate while Draymond received the Laimbeer treatment.

It's not right. It's never been right. They all play the same game on the same court, so what seems to be the problem with treating them all equally?

A foul is a foul, no matter who committed the infraction. So call it. And if it didn't happen, like this instance with Draymond Green -- which the refs rightfully didn't call at the time -- then who the hell is the league to step in later and possibly alter the outcome of a championship over something that was bogus to begin with?

Something doesn't smell right about this. When in doubt, follow the money -- then draw your own conclusions.

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