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Former Jazzman Rudy Gobert's scuffle with Draymond Green goes viral

Draymond Green
Klay Thompson
Rudy Gobert
Posted at 11:45 AM, Nov 15, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — It was the talk of the night with any NBA fan Tuesday night: Another Draymond Green ejection — but this time, it seemed personal.

Green was ejected less than two minutes into the Golden State Warriors' loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves for putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock.

It all started when Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels started grabbing each others' jerseys.

Gobert, the former Utah Jazz center who won three Defensive Player of the Year awards with the team, stepped in to break up the fairly mild altercation.

But Green apparently saw Gobert's actions as going against Thompson — that, or he still has unresolved "beef" with Gobert after the pair have traded some subtle and not-so-subtle trash talk over the years.

Green jumped in and immediately put Gobert in a chokehold, pulling him away from the initial fracas but starting a whole new one. Gobert's teammates tried to pull Green off, and the 7'1" Frenchman threw his hands up as Green dragged him several feet across the court while shouting words that were likely not fit for television.

After the dust settled and the referees reviewed the chaos from different camera angles, they ejected Green, Thompson and McDaniels. Gobert got two free throws, and in the end, his team won by three points (thanks in part to a Gobert block in the final seconds).

Gobert was not disciplined; the refs said he was clearly trying to break up the fight.

"Gobert was attempting to separate Thompson and McDaniels and was ruled to be a peacemaker," NBA officials said in a post-game report. "We reviewed all other players and acts and no other unsportsmanlike acts were observed."

After the game, Gobert shared his perspective on the altercation.

He said he got involved to “de-escalate the situation," according to the Associated Press.

“My first thought was just, ‘I’m not going to fight. I need to be in this game to help my team,’” Gobert said “I just showed the ref that I had my hands up, and I just waited until the situation was over. Nothing more than that. It wasn’t a good enough choke to put me to sleep.”

He also made some jabs at Green.

“I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done,” he said of Green's actions. “That’s just clown behavior."

Gobert also speculated that Green got ejected deliberately because Warriors' star Steph Curry was out for the game.

"It’s kind of funny because before the game, I was telling myself that Steph is not playing, so I know Draymond is going to try and get ejected,” Gobert said, according to The Athletic. “Because every time Steph doesn’t play, [Draymond] doesn’t want to play — it’s his guy Steph. He’ll do anything he can to get ejected.”

And as if that wasn't enough, Gobert took a jab at Green's fighting skills.

"If he knew how to choke, it could have been way worse,” Gobert said. “He tried to. His intention was to really take me out. And I kept my hands up the whole time just to show the officials that I wasn’t trying to escalate the situation."

The Athletic also reported that while the two former DPOY award winners had a history of verbal disputes, this was the first time it resulted in a significant physical altercation.

Serendipitously, Green was ejected from another game just a few days earlier for a foul on former Jazzman Donovan Mitchell, who now plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Green appeared to shove Mitchell as he ran to help his Cavs teammates on a counter-attack, sending him into the courtside seats but not resulting in any whistle. Mitchell then retaliated a few seconds later when Green had the ball. He ran up from behind him and gave him a light shoulder check, resulting in an immediate and obvious foul call.

The refs reviewed both plays and upheld the personal foul call against Mitchell, but added a technical to Draymond for his shove the play before. It was his second "T" of the game, so he was ejected.

“He pushed me, so I pushed him back,” Mitchell said, according to cleveland.com. “Simple tit for tat. Nothing outside of that... I just knew they had to look at that previous play. Gotta know the rulebook a little bit.”