The NBA suspended Draymond Green indefinitely Wednesday after the Golden State Warriors star delivered a flagrant blow to Jusuf Nurkic’s head during a 119-116 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
The suspension, which is an unusual disciplinary result for a flagrant foul, “takes into account Green’s repeated history of unsportsmanlike acts,” NBA vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said in a brief statement.
The ban follows his third ejection of the season and will begin immediately. Green “will be required to meet certain league and team conditions before he returns to play,” the league said.
Green’s blow to Nurkic’s head came with Golden State leading, 65-60, and 8:23 remaining in the third quarter of a nationally televised game at Phoenix’s Footprint Center. As the two players battled for position on an inbounds play, Nurkic held the right side of Green’s body in an attempt to prevent him from breaking open to receive a pass, and Green responded by spinning counterclockwise toward Nurkic and wildly swinging his right arm. Video replays showed that Green made direct contact with the left side of Nurkic’s face, causing the Bosnian big man to fall to the ground.
Green, who didn’t protest the ejection and jogged straight to the locker room, departed with two points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. During a postgame news conference, the four-time all-star apologized to Nurkic, said the blow was unintentional and acknowledged that his ejection was “warranted.”
“[Nurkic] was pulling my hip and I was swinging away to sell the call and made contact with him,” Green said. “As you know, I’m not one to apologize for things I meant to do, but I do apologize to Jusuf because I didn’t intend to hit him. … A replay is never going to look good. I know my intentions. My intentions were to sell the call. I don’t think I’m an accurate enough puncher to do a full 360 and connect with someone. It’s unfortunate.”
Nurkic was able to continue playing after the incident and finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Suns Coach Frank Vogel said that Green was guilty of a “reckless, dangerous” play and all-star guard Devin Booker added that Green’s emotions “got out of hand.”
“What’s going on with him? I don’t know,” Nurkic said of Green. “Personally, I feel like that brother needs help. I’m glad he didn’t try to choke me. At the same time, it ain’t nothing to do with basketball. I’m just out there trying to play basketball. He’s out there swinging. I think we saw that often. I hope whatever he’s got [going on] in his life, it gets better.”
With Green back in the locker room, Golden State fell behind by double digits early in the fourth quarter before mounting a furious rally in the closing minutes that came up short. Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said that he had “no comment” about Green’s flagrant blow because he hadn’t seen a replay.
“[Losing Green was a] huge swing,” Kerr said. “We kind of felt good about having him at the five and spreading the floor. … I felt good about having him out there, and he lost his poise. … We need Draymond. He knows that. We’ve talked to him. He’s got to find a way to keep his poise and be out there for his teammates.”
When Green’s five-game suspension for putting Gobert in a headlock, which at the time was the longest of his 12-year career, was announced, the league said the Warriors forward was guilty of “an unsportsmanlike and dangerous” action toward Gobert and that his “history of unsportsmanlike acts” had factored into the suspension’s length. That suspension cost Green more than $769,000 of his $22.3 million salary.
Green, who was also tossed from Warriors’ 118-110 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 11 for shoving Donovan Mitchell from behind during a transition play, is no stranger to league discipline. He was ejected from Game 2 and suspended for Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings in April for stomping on center Domantas Sabonis’s chest. As it did in its statement following the Gobert suspension, the NBA noted at the time the suspension was “based in part on Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.”
Perhaps most famously, Green hit LeBron James below the belt during the 2016 NBA Finals, prompting a one-game suspension that helped swing the series in favor of the Cavaliers. In October 2022, Green punched then-teammate Jordan Poole at practice. Poole was traded to the Washington Wizards in June, one week before the Warriors signed Green to a four-year, $100 million contract extension.
The Warriors, who fell to 10-13 with the loss to the Suns, sit 11th in the Western Conference standings. Golden State’s next five games are against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, the Boston Celtics on Dec. 19 and the Wizards on Dec. 22.