LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green, banned five games by the National Basketball Association after grabbing Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert in a headlock, Sunday defending his decision to defend a teammate.
Green lost his cool in the opening minutes of a game in San Francisco, after teammate Klay Thompson and the Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels got into it and Green saw Gobert try to pull Thompson away.
He flung an arm around Gobert’s neck, dragging him across the court in what officials called a headlock but which could have as easily been called a chokehold.
“Anytime there is a situation and a teammate needs you to come to his defense, I’m going to come to their defense,” Green said as he prepared to return to the court on Tuesday against Sacramento.
“Especially with someone I’ve been a teammate with for 12 years. That’s more than a teammate, that’s a brother.”
“Things can be interpreted how people interpret them, I’m not here to judge people’s interpretations or change them. They are what they are. But for me, I will always be there for my teammates.”
The NBA may have been hoping for more reflection from Green when it meted out a suspension “based in part on Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.”
Green said he thought that was unfair.
“To continue saying, ‘Oh, what he did in the past..’ I paid for those,” Green said.
“I got suspended for game five of the Finals,” he added — a reference to the one-game ban he drew in the 2016 Championship series.
“So you can’t keep suspending me for those actions.”
However, since the league has “made it clear” they would continue to take past transgressions into account, Green said he would “need to adjust where I see fit.”
“I’m going to play basketball the way I play basketball,” Green said.