Draymond Green is no stranger to the biggest stages the NBA has to offer — or the punishments that come for crossing the line while under the playoff spotlight.
It’s been on display, in full, from Game 1 of his Golden State Warriors‘ second-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. At the end of the second quarter, Green was issued a flagrant 2 foul and ejected for “excessive and unnecessary” contact when he pulled down Brandon Clarke by the jersey.
In Game 2 on Tuesday, Green’s night was nearly cut short for a different reason. An elbow to his head by Grizzlies big man Xaxier Tillman sent Green to the locker room. By itself, the Warriors star being forced out would have been a noteworthy moment from the game.
“It was an elbow,” Green, who was able to return after the incident, said in his post-game comments. “I don’t know if it was inadvertent or not, but I really don’t care. It’s an elbow.”
But it was what Green did on his way off the court that generated added attention — from fans and, potentially, from the league’s disciplinary team. As he walked off the court, Green gave the crowd in Memphis both middle fingers.
“I’ll take the fine, I’ll go do an appearance and make up the money,” Green said. “But, it felt really good to flip ’em off. You gonna boo someone that gets elbowed in the eye, blood running down your face, I could have had a concussion or anything. If they gonna be that nasty, then I can be nasty too. I’m assuming the cheers was because they knew I would get fined. Great. I make $25 million a year, I should be just fine.”
It wasn’t the first exchange between Green and the Memphis fans. After the foul that Green was ultimately ejected for, as officials reviewed the play, fans at the FedEx Forum chanted “Throw him out!”
As he left the court in Game 1, Green made a show of his departure, amping up the Memphis crowd.
The NBA has previously taken action against players giving fans the middle finger during these playoffs. In the first round, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was fined $50,000 for directing the same gesture at Boston Celtics fans, a punishment that may serve as precedent for what Green is sanctioned with.