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Discipline – or not – and the NBA

Discipline, The NBA and Interactional Justice

In the spirit of full disclosure,  I live in San Francisco and I am a Warrior fan. That said, even though I watch all the games, I am not so knowledgeable about the NBA and the rules — that’s what husbands and kids are for…Finally, as I get out all the disclaimers for this blog post, I am a fan of Draymond Green.  I know he can be a bully, but I also know he has been a true stand up guy to his community and alma mater in Michigan. Philanthropy is near and dear to my heart, so I love to see the generosity of athletes when it is done is such a deliberate and authentic way.

Like many others I found the NBA’s actions suspending Green to be  inappropriate, because it goes against all of the rules of discipline.  For 7 years I taught HR to seniors at the University of San Francisco School ff Management. Discipline in organizations is both an art and a science.  Most progressive discipline structures on built upon the framework of ethical principles and have three key elements: Interactional Justice, Procedural Justice and Outcomes Fairness.

Interactional Justice refers to the notion that the discipline takes into account the feelings of the individual involved .  Based on the news coverage, it appeared LeBron’s feelings were highly considered.  Draymond’s feelings of disrespect, which were later echoed by commentator Charles Barkley, were not given as much weight in the calculus.

Procedural Justice is that the methods used to determine the discipline were fair  and that the process is agnostic about the individuals involved.  The fact that this decision was arrived at, not during game 4 , but behind closed doors afterwards does not support a good process.  Similarly,  had this kerfuffle been between LeBron and any one else other than Draymond, a different conclusion would have been reached.

Finally, Outcomes Fairness refers to consistent fairness, knowledge of potential outcomes and penalties in proportion to behavior. Draymond did know that he was approaching the thresh hold for suspension due to his accumulated fouls.  That said, the fact that the flagrant was not assessed during the game but after the fact, makes the outcome seem less objective.  Some commentators have suggested that the suspension is  a “make up call” stemming from the failure  of the officials to call a flagrant during the prior series with Oklahoma, when Green kicked  Steven Adams. That “make-up foul” rationale is the antithesis of outcome fairness, since it occurred in a totally different play off cycle. The officials’ failure to appropriately call the game should not come back to haunt a player two weeks later.

So I think the NBA should clean up its act.  I also think the Warriors may just win this one for Draymond, and wouldn’t that be fitting.

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