Today’s 5 centers around Serge Ibaka, and the league’s decision on whether or not they would suspend him after his “below the belt” strike on Blake Girffin in Sunday’s 108-104 win for the Thunder over the Clippers. Right now, a lot of words are being thrown around, such as “intentional,” “cheap shot,” and many different synonyms for testicles, and there’s plenty of speculation about what the league will do. At any rate, here’s today’s 5:
1. For those of you who prefer GIFs over videos, here’s a GIF of the play. Honestly, the more I watch it, the more unsure I am about the whole situation. (GIF, so you can watch on endless repeat)
2. Dan Devine, writing for Yahoo! Sports, points out that with the call being a Flagrant-1, and not a Flagrant-2, which would have meant an ejection for Serge, had a game changing effect… and also points out that 16 first half turnovers aren’t a good recipe for a win, either. He also seems to like Hubie Brown, which I don’t personally agree with. Either way…
That means, of course, that Ibaka was able to stay in the game, which wound up mattering.
Barnes made the 3 prior to the foul, Griffin made one of two from the line and Jamal Crawford hit another 3 on the ensuing possession, locking down a seven-point trip that gave the Clippers a 100-99 lead. On the next OKC possession, Ibaka flashed to the top of the key to set a screen for Westbrook — while Russ dribbled away from it, Barnes knew it was coming and stopped his feet getting ready for it, giving Westbrook a split-second that allowed him to get to the rim for a layup that took back the lead…(full story)
3. Kobe Bryant hasn’t exactly been quiet during his career, but this year he’s been particularly outspoken. And he had words for LA Times reporters about Serge’s foul leading up to tonight’s clash between the Lakers and the Thunder.
Kobe Bryant on television saw Serge Ibaka punch Clipper forward Blake Griffin below the belt Sunday.
Bryant didn’t like it. In fact, Bryant didn’t hide what he would have done if the Oklahoma City forward hit him the same way.
“I probably would have smacked him in the mouth,” Bryant said Monday at practice.(full story)
4. Tony Manfred from Business Insider’s (apparently they like sports, too) sports column weighs in on Serge’s explanation of what happened
So Ibaka is saying that he intentionally retaliated, but unintentionally hit him in the groin.
Based on that explanation, he probably still should have been ejected — even if it was an accident that the punch landed where it did, he threw it purposefully.(full story)
5. Darnell Mayberry shines some optimism on if Serge will or won’t be handed a one game suspension leading up to today’s game against the Lakers
When the league suspended Metta World Peace last April for his elbow to the head of former Thunder guard James Harden, Stern said previous penalties, who’s involved in the altercation, the seriousness of the injury and “whatever else is in the atmosphere” all factored into his decision. Stern also said the league levies “appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”
Ibaka has no real history of unsportsmanlike conduct beyond tempers flaring in typical competitiveness. From that standpoint, a suspension seems like it would be severe and not in line with past punishments for repeat offenders.(full story)
Also, as a random caveat before I leave you, here’s the latest of what I deem an unfortunate internet fad known as the Harlem Shake, featuring the much detested Miami Heat.
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