OAKLAND (California) • Draymond Green's latest low blow in the National Basketball Association play-offs, a strike to the groin of LeBron James, could deliver a kick in the crotch to the Golden State Warriors' title plans.
Green's status for the fifth game of the NBA Finals was in doubt yesterday, after the 26-year-old Warriors forward hit the Cleveland superstar between the legs with a flailing arm when the two tangled and Green fell to the court late in the fourth quarter of Friday's 108-97 Golden State victory.
"He stepped over me," Green told the league's television network. "There's many routes you can take. Don't step over me like that... I don't care who you are. I'm not going to back down."
James and Green exchanged heated words, with the Cleveland star saying "some of the words that came out of his mouth were a little bit overboard".
Green would only say: "Stuff that's said on the court you will never get from me."
The Warriors seized a 3-1 lead and could capture the crown on their home court today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).
But repeated major fouls by Green could lead to a suspension for striking James if league officials review the play and decide Green committed a flagrant foul.
Green would be banned for Game 5 for accumulated play-off violations, most notably a kick to the groin of Oklahoma City centre Steven Adams, a New Zealander, in the Western Conference Finals.
Referees handed Green a flagrant foul-1 but a league review upgraded the blow to a flagrant foul-2 and fined him US$25,000 (S$34,000). Combined with a first-round flagrant foul, he faces suspension if his strike on James is upgraded.
"I don't know what should happen. It's not my call," James said on Saturday. "That's the league office. They will take a look at it."
Asked if he expected any action from league officials over the play, James said: "No."
Green has averaged 15.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.9 blocked shots and 1.6 steals a game for the Warriors in the play-offs.
Also, Green defends James, and his absence would make life easier for Cleveland's superstar playmaker, who averages 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists in games when his team are facing elimination.