The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The NBA (also) has a culture problem

Draymond Green, latest victim of confusing management
NBA+player+Draymond+Green%0A
Courtesy of Ash Carter | Wikimedia Commons
NBA player Draymond Green

Trigger warning: this article discusses cases on sexual assault and may be triggering to some readers

There is an inconsistency, not only in the NBA but across most professional sports leagues, in suspension lengths of players. The inconsistency is due to the liberty that the people who hand down the suspensions find themselves in. Suspension lengths are subjective, but that creates problems and a perceived feeling that the league does not frown upon certain types of actions as they should.

Recently, a notoriously hot-headed player received an indefinite suspension based on repeated negative offenses. Draymond Green, forward for the Golden State Warriors, received a suspension from the league after he connected a punch to the face of Pheonix Suns big man Jusuf Nurkić. 

It is not the first time that Green has been in an on-court violent incident. He has thrown a punch at a teammate in practice, punched an opposing player in the groin, kicked players in the groin, stomped on a player’s chest while they were on the ground and choked out a player during an altercation.  Green has been suspended for nine total games, not including his recent indefinite suspension, during his career, according to ESPN

His suspension length remains indefinite due to his history as a player prone to violent outbursts on the court, but his suspension remains confusing. 

During the offseason, Ja Morant received a 25-game suspension for the start of the 2023 season after he was seen during an Instagram livestream with a firearm for the second time. The first time it had happened, in March, he showed off a firearm in a nightclub and subsequently, he received a suspension of eight games. 

Another suspension the league dealt out went to Miles Bridges. Bridges, of the Charlotte Hornets, is involved in an ongoing domestic violence case from 2022. After missing all of the 2022–23 season, he served 10 games and returned to action in the current NBA season with an original 30-game suspension dealt by the league, according to Fox Sports

So far, we know that for violent acts, the league usually gives out single-game suspensions. For flaunting weapons on social media, you get 25 games. Finally, for being arrested on multiple counts of domestic violence accusations, you get served a 30-game suspension (however, he realistically served a full-season suspension as he did not play at all last season).  

The NBA serves suspensions for all kinds of reasons. Josh Primo, a first-round draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs in 2021, received a four-game suspension after a league investigation discovered that he “exposed himself to women” while on the Spurs, according to ESPN

While the psychologist and the Spurs settled a civil court case, the Texas district attorney’s office declined to bring charges against Primo due to a lack of evidence, according to the Los Angeles Times. Despite the DA’s office not having enough evidence, the league felt like they had enough to hand out a suspension but only gave Primo four games. 

In December 2022, the league suspended Orlando Magic player Moritz Wagner for two games for his role in a fight between his team and the Detroit Pistons. Wagner pushed a Pistons player into the bench at the end of a play and got punched in retaliation by the same player (who served a three-game suspension for his role). 

Seemingly, to the league, exposing yourself to a staff member of the team that you play for on multiple occasions is only slightly worse than being a part of a relatively small on-court scuffle. When Kobe Bryant got accused of rape in 2003, he had not received a suspension from the league as the criminal court case got dropped. However, a civil case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Admittedly, dancing around suspension lengths and trying to figure out a way for consistent discipline across a league that encounters so many different problems is a very difficult task, but when liberty is given to the league office, an agenda is assumed by the fans. 

When a player is more harshly punished for punching a fellow player for an on-the-court dispute than a player accused and settling civil cases for serious crimes off the court, it becomes an evident problem that the current system for dealing with and handing out player suspensions is inherently flawed.  

Previously, I have written about the NFL and its failure to punish its players involved in crimes regarding sexual assault proactively. Just like the NFL, the NBA is proving that they too, do not have a grasp on things when it comes to not only their player safety but how to deal with operating a brand when the people under that brand find themselves in controversy.

Being a professional athlete is being an entertainer at the end of the day. Why are professional leagues so willing to employ and not properly punish performers who prove to have serious off-the-court issues?

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.