NBA legend Shaq defends Warriors’ Draymond Green

Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal recently shared his thoughts on the heated on-court incident between Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert.

Green was ejected for his role in an in-season tournament game between the Warriors and Timeberwolves. He was later suspended for “forcibly grabbing” Gobert around the neck “in an unsportsmanlike and dangerous manner,” NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars said in a statement.

However, at least from O’Neal’s point of view, Green should not completely shoulder the blame. The four-time NBA champion suggested that he would have done something similar if he had been in the same situation.

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Shaquille ONeal looks on before game four between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals for the 2023 NBA playoffs at Kaseya Center.  (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

“I don’t like to be a hypocrite of the situation, I would have did the same thing,” O’Neal told TMZ. “You got to stick up for your teammates.”

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O’Neal added that he did not want to criticize Green for what he did, but he stopped short of saying whether the actions of the Warriors’ forward had been warranted.

“I don’t want to say, ‘Aw, he shouldn’t have did it,’” O’Neal said. “I’d have did the same thing. If Rudy was there, I would have choked him out, too. When you do those things, the NBA is gonna do what they do. I don’t want to say too harsh. Was it warranted? I don’t know, but I’m not gonna criticize Draymond Green for something I would have did.”  

Draymond Green and Klay Thompson after fight

Klay Thompson, #11, and Draymond Green, #23, of the Golden State Warriors, complain to the referee after getting into an altercation with the Minnesota Timberwolves at Chase Center on November 14, 2023, in San Francisco, California.  (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Gobert said that Green’s actions exemplified “clown behavior.”

On Thursday, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said Green “took it too far.”

“Draymond was wrong. He knows that. It’s a bad look, and the five games are deserved,” Kerr said.

Draymond Green vs the Rockets

Draymond Green, #23 of the Golden State Warriors, looks on during the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on March 20, 2023, in Houston, Texas. (Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s ejection marked the 18th time Green has been tossed out of an NBA game, which is the second-most in league history. Green has now been suspended five times during his career.

He also drew 16 technical fouls during the 2022-23 season.

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It was Green’s 18th career ejection, the second-most in NBA history, and it’s the fifth time he’s been suspended. He is in his 12th season in the NBA, all of which have been with the Warriors.

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The NBA noted that the five-game suspension was based in part on “Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.”