Draymond Green has been suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and Rick Barry isn’t happy about it. The NBA Hall of Famer doesn’t blame the league for this, either; he blames the media.
“The media caused this suspension because of all the stuff they made about the last time with (Steven) Adams,” Barry said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Here’s the thing – and this is my biggest pet peeve with the NBA, and it’s been this way ever since I played: They allow what takes place on a basketball court in the playoffs to be something that you would get arrested (for) if you did it out on the street. It’s like hockey with no ice. It’s insane. The physical contact and the amount of physicality that’s allowed, it’s a joke. I can’t even stand watching it.”
Green had an encounter with LeBron James toward the end of Game 4 last Friday. As a result, the NBA issued Green his fourth flagrant foul of the postseason, which carries an automatic one-game suspension.
“LeBron absolutely manhandled Draymond prior to that play,” Barry said, “and if the official had blown the whistle and stopped it, nothing would have happened. It’s just ridiculous. They just make so much out of this, but the officials are the ones to blame for stuff like this that happens because they let too much contact go. It’s just ridiculous.”
Even without Green, the Warriors will still have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and others heading into Game 5 on Monday. They’re also playing at home, where they are 50-3 this season.
In other words, James will still need to play at an otherworldly level if he wants to avoid losing his third consecutive NBA Finals. Even if James loses again, though, Barry doesn’t think it will hurt his legacy.
“No, not really,” he said. “Without him, do you think these teams would have been in the Finals the last six years? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. So because they don’t win, you put it on him? That’s ridiculous. Nobody wins it by themselves. I just don’t understand why people want to do that. LeBron is the best three to play in the game ever.”
Thus, knocking James for coming up shy against a historic team, Barry said, wouldn’t be right.
“For them to do that to LeBron is a disservice,” Barry said. “He’s an anomaly. There’s never been a player with his size, his athleticism, his strength, and people think he should be able to carry people to a championship. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s a team game. It’s not like you’re a baseball pitcher and you can throw a perfect game and win. Even then, you need your fielders behind you to do something, and you need your batters to score at least one run.”
Greatness, as Barry explained, isn’t necessarily measured by titles; it’s measured by what you do to elevate the play of those around you. John Salley won four NBA titles. Steve Kerr won five. Robert Horry won seven. They were all solid players, but were any of them better than Charles Barkley? Or Patrick Ewing? Or Karl Malone?
No, they weren’t.
“So now you’re going to get extra points that you were lucky enough to be drafted by a team that was smart enough to put good players around you to give you a chance to win?” Barry asked. “You don’t win by yourself. . . . (James) may not be the best in any (category), but he’s damn close to it in all of the categories. He’s not a great shooter, but everything else that he does is pretty spectacular. The guy’s an amazing player, and nobody’s been like him. He’s better in most areas than any other player is in those particular areas.”