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Draymond Green can't control himself, and that makes him great

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The star utility knife of the Warriors is suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Tamping down the actions that make him susceptible to sanctions would be to diminish Green's essence. This is who he is.

Draymond Green is not the first NBA superstar to take things a little too far. In fact, line crossing sometimes feels like part of the genome among the NBA's fiercest defensive stalwarts. Dennis Rodman was maniacal on the glass and straight-up nasty to opponents. Ron Artest had real trouble staying within acceptable bounds of physicality on the court until his later years. Kevin Garnett once got down on all fours and barked at an opposing point guard. There's some link -- not universal, not concrete, but some link -- between defensive tenacity and an inability to control on-court emotions.

Green is such a player. He'll miss Monday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals not solely because he, in the parlance of the league, "made unnecessary contact with a retaliatory swipe of his hand" to LeBron James' groin. That action earned a flagrant foul that wouldn't have been issued against most players. The fact that this wasn't Green's first low blow of the postseason surely factored into the decision. His kick between Steven Adams' legs earned a Flagrant-2 (double the points on the flagrant meter). Before that, Green had a completely foolish throwdown of Michael Beasley on the final play of the Warriors' single loss to the Rockets.

No, Green isn't missing Game 5 because he had the temerity to swipe at King James' royal jewels. He's booted out of the arena because he did that after he'd thrown down Beasley and kicked Adams, and after he'd collected a league-high five technical fouls in the playoffs, and after he'd finished No. 3 in technical fouls in the regular season. Players earn reputations from the officials and from the league's punishers. It's not an accident that Green was in position to be suspended upon one more flagrant slip or a couple of techs. (Trust me as someone who has watched most of DeMarcus Cousins' pro games.)

But lamenting Green's self-inflicted exile isn't useful either, because that which drove him to suspension is what drives him to drive LeBron crazy while he's out there. Green plays like a very smart lunatic with little ability to stop at the whistle or stop at the invisible line of sportsmanship. His showboat flexes are part and parcel with the fierce ball strips. His retaliatory swipes come out of the same personality trait that allows him to body up to players with four, five inches on him.

The retrospectively costly Beasley throwdown was a) hilarious and b) illustrative. Remember what that looked like?

It's just so unnecessary! But hell no. Draymond Green isn't letting his man get the ball clean when the Warriors need to force a turnover to have a prayer. So he takes the situation to its logical conclusion by tackling his man. Why deal in half measures? Who could have known Green would rack up three more flagrant points solely due to crotch shots and have to miss the game in which his team could potentially clinch the title at home?

If Green could hold back from throwing down Beasley in that relatively meaningless situation, he would. If he could refrain from upperkicking an opponent he finds annoying or responding to a step-over perceived as disrespectful with a swipe at the nether regions, he would. He can't! That's not how he's wired. And all told, how he is wired has been a huge net benefit for the Warriors and for the NBA.

Green's fate in Game 5 isn't quite the worst case scenario for someone like him -- that'd be if the Warriors were down 3-1 and he'd been suspended. But it's pretty close. How awkward it will be if Golden State clinches the championship with Green wearing a facial prosthetic in the owners' suite ("Sup, I'm Graymond Deen") or lounging in his manse up in the Oakland Hills. How unfortunate it will be if Green has to be shuttled into the locker room after the confetti falls, wearing a suit instead of a sweat-soaked uniform.

How unfortunate it will be if Green's absence gives LeBron and the Cavaliers new life, and Golden State loses on its home court for just the fifth time all season. How unfortunate it would be if the Warriors have to return to Cleveland and hand the Cavs just their second home loss of the postseason. How unfortunate if the series goes seven because Draymond Green knew the stakes and couldn't do anything to stop himself from raising them. How unfortunate if the Basketball Gods strike down upon the Warriors and hand the trophy to Cleveland.

But how unfortunate it would be for Green to lack the very fire that makes him Draymond Green in the first place.

The chances of the Warriors losing the series are still mighty small but they exist, and if Golden State loses on Monday, Green's role (or lack thereof) will be the unavoidable story for three straight news cycles heading into Game 6 on Thursday. Green's teammates can save him a whole lot of heartburn by ending this now, by bringing him into a funny celebration instead of a pall-ridden flight to Ohio. The Basketball Gods have been playful this postseason, and having the Warriors clinch without their feisty avatar might be the perfect kicker for a league gone mad.


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