As the regular season is about to begin, one reflects back to last season. One notable recollection is the oft repeated comments on National TV by commentators Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller on how to disrupt Lebron's games. They argue that Lebron is so strong that you have to do ALL you can to stop him or WHATEVER it takes to take the ball from him. As if players have been listening,we saw them respond.
Bulls' Hinrich in a bear hug vice brought Lebron down to the floor as if one was watching a televised professional wrestling tournament. In another Game, we saw Nate Robinson shove Lebron to the backboard.Not to be outmatched we saw Nazi Mohammed running into the path of a charging Lebron who was on a fast breakaway.To justify these plays or pre-empt the NBA refs from calling out these players, these commentators justified them as " who the Bulls are". They play physical.The refs should let the players play.The flow of the game should not be interrupted for the simple reason that no one was hurt! When has injury become the determining factor for a dangerous play to be called so? We also saw some of these "physical plays" in the 2011/12 season games between the Pacers and the Heat.And of course, your guess is as good as mine, you know who was on the receiving end,the Heat.
A disturbing aspect of these plays and many others alike not mentioned in this piece, is that these are plays that can easily lead to season ending injuries for Lebron or any other physically less endowed player.But because Lebron being "strong", gets up and shrugs it off, these ugly hit job plays are penalized with an ordinary offensive interference fouls. These are plays that are as worse as flagrant 2 fouls but are are not called so because no hand to the face contact is made or because Lebron does not lay on the floor a second too late groaning and feigning an injury.
It is no secret that all over the blogosphere, Lebron haters wish for season ending injuries to happen to him.Doubt me, read the fans blogs of other teams.Fortunately for him, he has come away with minor scratches.Unfortunately, these "physical plays" or "hit jobs" which so often do not get the penalty they deserve from the NBA may increasingly become the norm this coming regular season, because these players have gotten away with light penalties.
Is it not ludicrous that the NBA would award a $5000.00 fine to a "flop" play and no such equivalent fine to a foul play that could have the potential to end the career of the best basketball player in the world? Is it not ludicrous that the NBA chose not to review these plays and thus award commensurate deterrent penalties that would minimize the occurrence of such plays but would rather spend time to craft a "Derrick Rose rule" for such a thing as innocuous as, when a player shies away from talking to reporters during his non playing injury period.The joke does not stop here, the so called "Derrick Rose rule" was crafted so the injured player could talk to reporters on their beat so they could have stories to write. Some one please wake me up !!
Does anyone here remember Superbowl XLIV? That was the Superbowl between the Indiana Colts and the New Orleans Saints held in Miami Gardens, Florida, Feb 7, 2010.The Saints were the underdogs just smarting from the devastation of hurricane Katrina.The Saint won 31-17 .But something more significant happened. Peyton Manning, ex-Colts quarterback got hit in that game.Later, his ex Head coach said, that was the beginning of Manning's complaints about his neck. It was suggested that it looked like a hit job on Peyton.Several Saints players denied it.Peyton Manning being the gentleman that he is shrugged it off and simply said that it was just another play in the game of football.We may never know whether it was a hit job on Peyton or not.But fast forward many years later, we got confessions from some Saint players that there were financial incentives for targeted players from the other teams to be injured.No one though would acknowledge that Manning was a targeted player and that his injury was one of those "hit jobs". Perhaps, because today Peyton Manning is wearing rods in his neck and no one wants to face the wrath of a trial physical injury attorney.We are glad that today, Peyton Manning is back from his injury and breaking all kinds of NFL quarterback records known to man.
The big question is.Should the NBA wait until Lebron or any other player is inflicted with a season or career ending injury from these touted and much celebrated "physical plays" by players which are not different from "hit jobs" by "thugs" in uniforms? Should a player have his career or season cut shot by one of these ugly plays before the NBA decides to come down heavily on these ugly much touted " physical plays"? When has physical assault become the equivalent of a physical play? Shoving a player from behind to the back board is not physical play that is assault. A bear hug vice in a basketball game is not physical play but it is an assault? When did the NBA allow TV commentators to define what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in our beautiful game of basketball? When did they begin to lay down the rules of the game? If, on the street someone brings you down with a bear hug vice with no provocation from you is it not an assault? If, on the street someone shoves you from behind and you hit a billboard with no provocation from you, is that not an assault? Why is it seen differently when it happens during a basketball game that should have no room for such ugliness?
The irony of it all is that when Lebron or any affected player reacts to these very ugly offensive physical assault on the court, he is quickly tagged "being feisty" or "frustrated". And in dancing along to the tune of the commentary, the NBA agrees that the assaulted player over-reacted to what was clearly an assault on him by the defensive player.
The game of basketball is not about doing ALL you can or WHATEVER it takes to take the ball from a player even if it means assaulting a player so called physical play.The time for the NBA to save our darling sport from glorified thuggery is NOW. The time for the NBA to save a player from an unnecessary season or career ending injury is NOW. NBA should not wait for the regular season to start before she acts. Act NOW !!!
Half a word is enough for the wise !!!!