Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James was issued a technical foul and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was assessed a flagrant-1 foul for their roles in a fourth-quarter altercation during Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals on Friday.
The NBA announced its decision Sunday, per Sports Illustrated. Green will automatically be suspended for Game 5 because of his accrual of flagrant points.
"The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game," NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said. "While [Green's] actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a stand-alone act, the number of flagrant points he earned triggers a suspension for Game 5."
Additionally, Green will be fined $129,000, per Bobby Marks of The Vertical.
On Monday, Marc J. Spears of ESPN reported Green is "expected to watch" the game from a suite in the Coliseum next door during the Oakland Athletics' game against the Texas Rangers.
Catherine Aker, A's director of corporate communications, confirmed to TMZ that Green will be in the stadium to watch the game.
"We extended an invitation to Draymond to throw out the first pitch and he declined," Aker told TMZ. "He would prefer to keep a low profile while at our game."
The confrontation occurred with a little less than three minutes remaining in Golden State's 108-97 win. James and Green became entangled when Green attempted to set a hard screen. When James jostled Green loose and sent him to the floor, he attempted to step over the Warriors forward—leading to Green swinging his arm at the four-time MVP and hitting him in the groin.
James immediately turned around, and the two nearly scuffled outside the three-point line in the middle of a Warriors possession. They almost came to blows again while chasing a rebound, with James needing to be restrained by multiple teammates and screaming in Green's direction. Officials assessed a double foul.
Despite Green being suspended for Game 5, The Vertical's Shams Charania reported that guard Ian Clark will also be inactive.
James discussed the incident, per AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today:
Draymond said something that I don't agree with. I'm all cool with the competition; I'm all fine with that, but some of the words that came out of his mouth were a little bit overboard. Being a guy with pride, a guy with three kids and a family, things of that nature, just some things go overboard, and that's where he took it.
Green, for his part, did not back down and put the blame on James.
"I felt he stepped over me. You're not just gonna step over me like that," Green said on NBA TV, via Neuharth-Keusch. "There's many routes you can take, don't just step over me like that. We had our words, it is what it is. I don't care who you are, I'm not gonna back down from you."
Game 4 was by far the chippiest of the first four Finals games. Golden State and Cleveland turned the second half into a slugfest, trading harder-than-expected fouls and jawing back and forth throughout. The referees allowed the game to get progressively more demonstrative and stayed largely out of the fray.
James said he did not have an opinion on whether Green should be punished, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
I don't know what should happen. It's not my call. That's the league office. They'll take a look at it. We all saw it in the locker room. You know, like I said, as a competitor, I love going against Draymond, and I'm all about going out there and leaving it out on the floor. But when it gets a little bit more than what it should be, that's what caused me to have words with him.
What was otherwise a typical case of two guys being competitive carried extra weight because of Green's groin shot. The Warriors forward was assessed a flagrant foul in the Western Conference Finals after kicking Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported while a suspended player is banned from the arena, Green will not be forced to miss the postgame celebration if the Warriors win Game 5.
The Warriors are a 6.5-point favorite, per Odds Shark. With Green suspended, the seemingly insurmountable task of taking down Golden State feels more feasible. Green is the Warriors' best individual defender and unlocks nearly everything they do on both ends of the floor. He's not their most talented player, but there are times when he feels like their most important.
The Warriors will now go into Game 5 facing an uphill battle, with the Oracle Arena crowd on fire waiting to celebrate the team's second straight championship. If Golden State is unable to close things out, the series will return to Cleveland for Game 6 on Thursday with the pressure mounting on the defending champs.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.