Ibaka's no-call baffles NBA community
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 00:03
Some of the best in the West faced each other this past Sunday when the Clippers hosted the Thunder in a highly anticipated conference showdown. Along with the Miami Heat, these two teams are among the most exciting, high flying teams in basketball. The Thunder won the game, 106-102, despite an amazing comeback by the Clippers. However, people are not talking about the comeback or the statement road victory for the Thunder as much as they are discussing the actions of one of the Thunder’s players, Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka, the starting power forward for the Thunder, got in an altercation with the Clippers’ well known dunking power forward, Blake Griffin. In this case, altercation is not defined as a normal scuffle. With just under two minutes left in the game, Ibaka boxed out Griffin under the hoop, and swung his arm and hit him right in the groin area as Matt Barnes hit a three to cut the Thunder’s lead to two. After watching the replay, you can clearly see Ibaka glance down, aim and swing at the Griffin’s forbidden area. Griffin dropped to the court for a little while but ended up staying in the game. Ibaka, on the other hand, was only given a flagrant one foul, which means he would remain in the game. Only a flagrant two foul can lead to an ejection.
The Clippers fans flipped out at the call, and could not believe that Ibaka was going to remain in the game. Little did the fans know that Ibaka would get fouled while making a clutch bucket with under a minute left in the game and drill the accompanying free throw. His three-point play gave the Thunder a four-point lead that ultimately sealed the game.
After the game, the Twitter world erupted with comments from superstars including Griffin, Dwayne Wade and even LeBron James. If you recall, earlier in the year, Dwayne Wade was suspended on an incidental kick to the groin of the Bobcats’ Ramon Sessions. That kick, however, was nowhere near as blatant as Ibaka’s strike on Griffin. Wade was not only suspended, but he was fined over $200,000. It was ruled on Tuesday that Ibaka would not be suspended and would only be fined $25,000. There was clearly inconsistency in the two rulings, and writers and star players are looking for answers.
Blake Griffin will have a hard time getting those answers if the NBA continues to take the side of people like Kendrick Perkins. After the game Perkins told the media that, “The dude is known for flopping anyway, so that’s what it is. Serge ends up getting the bad end of the stick. I didn’t like the whole thing, period. I thought it should’ve been a double foul.”
Obviously, you can expect this reaction from Perkins because he is Ibaka’s teammate. To his point though, yes, when I think of Griffin, I too picture offensive fouls with his furious dunks and terrible flops when someone tries to dunk or drive on him, but just because he has a reputation for flopping does not mean we can just ignore the instant replay. We can clearly see Ibaka look down, aim, swing and strike the Dunk Champion’s groin area. It was obvious that it was intentionally done to harm Griffin. It was not just an arm swinging out of control.
Even though the NBA decided to idiodically rule that Ibaka would only be fined $25,000 and face no suspension, it does not change the fact that the foul was a flagrant two. The NBA did say that the call should have been called a flagrant-two, but the ruling is too little, too late. These two teams have two of the best records in the entire league. They are currently tied in the win column, and that game was a crucial contest, which was affected severely by the non-ejection of Ibaka. Ibaka scored on that “and-one” play with under a minute left that essentially clinched the win for the Thunder.
Referees may not always get the calls right, but when Stu Jackson and the NBA front office sit down in a non-hostile, air conditioned room, they should be able to get the correct call, and unfortunately they did not. They were quick to pin Dwayne Wade with a suspension, but not Serge Ibaka. Wade also was not a previous offender. The only thing he ever did was break Kobe Bryant’s nose in an all-star game, because Kobe shot on every possession, thinking if you drive to the hole, no one will contest you. Wade only reminded him that they were still playing a game. Now, someone has to remind Ibaka of the same thing. It is only a game, it might have the intensity of war, but it is not a war. And even in war, a below the belt shot is still looked down upon.