Steve Kerr applauds how NBA handled Livingston-Kirkland suspension




 

The Warriors have to applaud the outcome of the brief head-to-head skirmish Sunday night between veteran guard Shaun Livingston and the veteran referee Courtney Kirkland.

If nothing else, they can take the court Monday night in New Orleans secure in the belief that the NBA was objective in its decision to punish both men.

More specifically, the league acknowledged what was plainly evident to anyone who witnessed the incident in all its angles and speeds: Kirkland not only failed to defuse the situation but actively engaged and further agitated it.

The result: Livingston will miss one game and Kirkland will sit out a week's worth of assignments.

"I thought the league handled it well," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said prior to tipoff against the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center. "I think it was the right decision.

"It seemed pretty obvious there was some contact and both the official and the player were a part of it, and they are both being reprimanded. It was the right choice."

This is germane because players tend to believe there are two levels of scrutiny, microscopic for players and hazy for officials.

The Warriors sit firmly in this camp, with the latest example being the comments made Friday night by Kevin Durant after he was ejected -- by official Eric Lewis -- in the fourth quarter of the Warriors-Magic game in Orlando.

"The refs run the game," Durant said. "So if they're not feeling good today, they can just make any decision they want. So I've got to know that they've got all the power. I've got to just shut up and take it."

The Warriors have long believed, with at least some justification, that Stephen Curry is grabbed and bumped and clipped at a rate higher than his free throw totals would imply. They also believe Draymond Green's suspension for Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals was, well, orchestrated by forces.

As for individual players, Green believes, again with some merit, that he is targeted and that much of it goes back to that 2016 suspension. Two of his teammates, Andre Iguodala and Omri Casspi, are far quicker to plead with officials than they are to accept being whistled.

The decision to suspend Livingston and Kirkland, announced Monday afternoon, deserves a round of applause, not only from the Warriors but also from their fellow teams teams around the league.

Here is the NBA's official memo on the subject:

"NBA Official Courtney Kirkland has been removed from the league's officiating rotation for one week and Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston has been suspended one game without pay for their roles in an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations. The incident, which began when Livingston aggressively approached Kirkland while protesting a non-call, occurred with 6:24 remaining in the second quarter of the Warriors' 123-95 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday, Dec. 3 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"As part of the incident, Livingston and Kirkland bumped heads, and Livingston was assessed a technical foul and ejected for making contact with a game official. Upon league office review, it was determined that Kirkland moved toward Livingston and shared responsibility for the contact that occurred.

"Kirkland's suspension will begin tonight and run through Sunday, Dec. 10. He will be eligible to return to game action on Monday, Dec. 11.

"Livingston will serve his suspension tonight when the Warriors play the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center."

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