PHOENIX SUNS

Jusuf Nurkic on Draymond Green’s ejection: ‘I’m glad he didn’t try to choke me’

Dec 13, 2023, 8:18 AM | Updated: 9:02 am

Jusuf Nurkic of the Phoenix Suns after getting hit in the face by Draymond Green...

Jusuf Nurkic #20 of the Phoenix Suns lays on the court after being fouled by Draymond Green (not pictured) of the Golden State Warriors during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 12, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Hours after Golden State’s Draymond Green was ejected for swinging his arms and connecting with Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic’s face, Nurkic wondered aloud why the Warriors forward had just earned his third ejection in 15 appearances this season.

“What’s going on with him? I don’t know,” Nurkic told reporters after a Suns win on Tuesday at Footprint Center. “Personally, I feel like that brother need(s) help. I’m glad he didn’t try to choke me. At the same time, it had nothing to do with basketball, man.

“Hopefully, whatever he got in his life gets better.”

Green was issued a flagrant 2 penalty and departed the Warriors’ 119-116 loss after 17 minutes played.

“He was pulling my hip and I was swinging away to sell the call, made contact with him,” Green said after the game, acknowledging his hit deserved a flagrant 2. “As you know, I’m not one to apologize for things I meant to do, but I do apologize to Jusuf because I didn’t intend to hit him.

“I know my intentions. My intentions were to sell the call. … I also don’t think I’m an accurate enough puncher to do a full 360 and connect with someone.”

It’s Green’s third ejection in a month’s span.

He was lost for a Nov. 11 shove from behind on Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell on a transition play. Then on Nov. 14, Green escalated a scuffle between teammate Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jalen McDaniels by putting Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert in a head-lock — hence Nurkic’s relief on Tuesday that he didn’t get choked.

The Gobert run-in cost Green five games, and the NBA cited the forward’s history of recurring non-basketball acts for the length of the suspension.

Then Tuesday against the Suns happened, and Green will once again be judged in a different light than his peers, even if his connection with Nurkic’s face was not intentional.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who hadn’t seen replays of Nurkic hit, told reporters he would reiterate to Green that Golden State is better with him available, adding Green “lost his poise.”

In the opposing press conference room, Nurkic and Devin Booker spoke on poise being a point of emphasis for them when reacting to that kind of thing.

“I have learned in this league when you respond to some (expletive) like that, you getting fined, or you are getting penalty, which is not fair,” Nurkic said. “But at the same time, I am too valuable to this team to get in foul trouble, getting techs or getting kicked out. I got to stay mentally OK.”

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