There has been a lower tolerance for bullying, sexism, and violence in society. The social media court of opinion has taken a stand that morality is important, I think. In sport we’ve seen an uptick behavior that is considered socially unacceptable. Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver, Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka and Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshawn Watson have received what some might call harsh “sentences” based on social movements dedicated to creating the illusion equality.
Draymond Green punched his teammate Jordan Poole in the face during an altercation in the Golden State Warrior practice. Apparently, he told Draymond he wasn’t as good as others on the team. The truth is a sobering thing. This was an excellent opportunity to raise the level of expectation in behavior by players on the court that matches the expectations we have for them off the court. We’ve missed the mark again.
In the world of basketball practice, punches have been thrown, but fist fights are not commonplace. Fights happen more frequently than people would believe. What is uncommon is the public getting a chance to peak in via a leaked tape from practice. These facts are not an excuse for Draymond’s behavior. Draymond’s actions are in line with who he has been since he was given an opportunity to play extended minutes as a key role player as an intangible giant. He’s loud to a fault and in the last couple of seasons, largely unproductive on the basketball court by the numbers. The lack of production is hidden in the championships. After winning the 2022 championship, he doubled down on his belligerence and unprofessionalism leading to the punch.
In the weeks following the scuffle, the Golden State Warriors gave Poole a contract extension to what seemed like part performance based and hush money to not speak on the altercation. Poole himself has not talked publicly about the incident. Draymond apologized and stayed away from the team for a few days during training camp but did not miss a single regular season game. According to the basketball world, the lion’s share of blame should go to the video coordinator who leaked the video. The basketball good ol’ boys network believed that this should have been handled internally. Once it made national headlines, it should have been handled publicly, as a show of good faith to young basketball players, parents, Golden State fans and NBA lovers that this behavior is unacceptable. Instead, the Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that fights happen all the time in basketball practices. There also was a disgusting deflection that blamed Golden State video coordinator(s) for leaking the video and a promise to find out where the leakage originated. In the 1990’s Kerr had been punched in the face by Michael Jordan during practice. Also, in a sad twist of events, his father Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated by the militant group, Islamic Jihad, targeted because he was the president of the American University of Beirut. I would’ve imagined that Kerr of all people would have taken a more decisive stance against any type of violence.
Someone who is abusive at work will typically be abusive at home. If Draymond were to hit his wife, we wouldn’t allow him to get off with time away from Golden State training camp and a team induced fine. Additionally, this is a microcosm of acceptable black on black crime which should have been cause for Green to be arrested for assault if we’re being petty. Similar to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the Oscars, the two men knew one another before the incident, something was said and BANG! One could argue that because it was the Oscars, a space dominated by non-blacks, the world holds that event space in higher regard than the NBA, a space dominated by people of African decent. This flawed mentality makes the Draymond’s punch acceptable and Will Smith’s slap egregious. Lastly, there has been a uptick in violence at youth sporting events which I believe is a derivative of what young players see from the professional levels and from professional players. Just recently we had Dallas TX native and former NFL player Aqib Talib get into a fight that led to his brother Yaqub Salik Talib shooting and killing the opposing coach at youth football game. Prior to that, multiple reports said that a mother shot at a coach during a Dallas TX AAU.
Barbarism has been a part of sport, dating back to African wrestling (recorded B.C. as one of the oldest versions of sport, preceding that of Greco-Roman wrestling.) Barbarism is one of the reasons that we watch sports which gives a glimpse into the mind of the sadistic nature we all have as fans watching. As we develop as humans, barbarism should be less of the culture of sport. Tennis, golf, and polo are decent examples of gentlemen sports where screaming, yelling, and fighting are actions that are shunned. Basketball can fit in that space. Violence shouldn’t have a place in sport unless we are allowing bullying in elementary schools, domestic violence in the home and Fight Club antics around the water cooler at the office in my opinion.