By all the measures that actually count, this year’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers is a dud. It only took one game for the National TV audience to know the 57-win Cavs were badly overmatched by the history-making 73-win Dubs. The NBA TV ratings for the Finals have been in free fall since Game One as reported by Sports Media Watch.
Since Game 1 scored 19.2 million viewers, the most for an NBA Finals opener since 1998, viewership has declined for each successive game — dropping to 17.5 million for the Warriors’ 33-point Game 2 win, 16.5 million for the Cavaliers’ 30-point Game 3 win, and 16.4 million for Friday’s game.* The last three games of the series have earned a lower rating and viewership than any of last year’s six games.
This is bad news for ESPN and they’ve been desperately flaying around for anything to save Game Five and hopefully extend this series at least one more game. Courtesy of LeBron James, they got their controversy and they’ve been selling the possible suspension of Draymond Green hard since the end of Game Four. Even if the Dubs put the Cavs away at home on Monday as expected, now at least there’s a chance the game will be competitive and someone will stick around to watch it.
As is perfectly obvious from the video, the entire situation that has gotten Green suspended for Game Five was orchestrated by James 100 percent.
The referees refused to get involved. Even after James threw Green to the ground in response to being blocked by a moving screen and could/should have been assessed the flagrant foul which would have stopped the subsequent series of events in their tracks. Then James further escalates the situation by deliberately walking over Green and pushing his privates over Green’s head. James made no attempt to walk around or back up as Green tried to get back up off the court James had just thrown him down on. Where’s the ‘T’ for that move? … and play merely continued as if nothing had happened.
About a minute later, the referees didn’t even have the stones to call a foul on James as he held Curry on a in-bounds play and tossed him around like a rag doll. At the very least that was two shots and the ball for fouling before the ball was in play.
Yes the game was over with three minutes to go, but it was the failure to acknowledge that James fouls as much and as hard (or harder) as anything he receives that caused the escalation of events and then let it continue.
The official explanation from the NBA is weak.
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has been assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league office review, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
In accordance with NBA rules, Green will serve a one-game suspension without pay for accruing his fourth Flagrant Foul point of the 2016 postseason. He will serve his suspension Monday, June 13 during Game 5 of The Finals at Oracle Arena.
The incident occurred when Green made unnecessary contact with a retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James with 2:48 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 108-97 win in Game 4 of The Finals at Quicken Loans Arena.
Under league rules, any player who accumulates four flagrant foul points over the course of the playoffs will be automatically suspended for one game, and every additional flagrant foul will result in either a one-game suspension (for a Flagrant Foul 1) or a two-game suspension (for a Flagrant Foul 2).
“The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game,” said VanDeWeghe. “While Draymond Green’s actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a standalone act, the number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension for Game 5.”
James has been assessed a technical foul upon league office review for his role in the altercation, which included a physical taunt.
There is no acknowledgement of James use of excessive and unnecessary force on either of Green or Curry. The only interpretation left is James can physically beat up whomever he chooses and if his opponent retaliates, they’ll be subject to league rules and punishment.
The ruling would have been a whole lot easier to accept if James was assessed a flagrant foul for his hit on Green and a flagrant or a technical for his manhandling of Curry, but the NBA chose not to. Green hasn’t exactly been an angel in these playoffs, but James knew exactly what he was doing at the end of Game Four, so if the retroactive call made two days after the game had ended looked fair and balanced, there wouldn’t be much to say about it.
As it stands, it looks like VanDeWeghe bowed to pressure from ESPN to save the Finals TV ratings and make the incident and suspension appear as one-sided as possible. It might work too. At least now there’s something to talk about besides how overmatched the Cavs are.
Note, as expected the NBA also announced,
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
Lue made his comments during the postgame press conference following the Golden State Warriors’ 108-97 victory over the Cavaliers in Game 4 of The Finals on June 10 at Quicken Loans Arena.
No one in the NBA can call out the referees without cutting a check.