Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder drew a $25,000 fine but no suspension after striking a blow to Blake Griffin’s groin on Sunday, March 3. (Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr.com)
Late in the nationally televised game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Sunday, March 3, Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka did the unthinkable.
To borrow a phrase from Mike Myers’ Fat Bastard character from in 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” Ibaka smacked Griffin “right in the mommy daddy buttons.”
According to ESPN.com, Ibaka was fined $25,000 and the league upgraded the flagrant foul 1 Ibaka was issued with 1:52 left in the Thunder’s 108-104 win to a flagrant foul 2. That indicates that NBA executive vice president for basketball operations Stu Jackson—also known as the principal of the NBA—believed Ibaka’s actions warranted an ejection.
Watch the video and you decide whether or not a suspension was in order:
For his part, the victim—Griffin—was stunned that Ibaka didn’t at least receive a one-game ban.
“I don’t really see how it can be let go [with just a fine],” Griffin told Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. “But I’m not going to do anything about it. I’m not going to cry and complain.”
Griffin also provided some humor in the aftermath of his short bout with singing soprano with this tweet on Wednesday, March 6:
Kid Blake: Who are you? Future Blake: you from the future… Don’t listen to anything else I’ve told you just start wearing a cup.
What is most remarkable about the incident is that anyone would do such a thing in the first place. It really shouldn’t need to be written down, but perhaps in light of this incident and others, someone should.
But it is most definitely not cool to throw a punch, judo chop or whatever in the direction of another man’s … ahem … groinal region.
Sadly, however, there is precedent for this sort of thing going on in the NBA without a suspension following in its wake.
Reggie Evans, then of the Denver Nuggets, was fined $10,000 by the league and assessed a flagrant foul 2 after he appeared to grab the extremely personal area on Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers during Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round in 2006.
According to a May 1, 2006, Associated Press report posted at ESPN.com, Evans was cited for “unnecessary and excessive contact” by the league. Gee, ya think? Again, let the video be the judge:
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, perhaps feeling the need to declare himself to be more than a mere mortal, said Monday he would have “smacked [Ibaka] in the mouth” if he had been in Griffin’s … ummmmm … shorts and that he would have “dealt with the pain after.”
Apparently Bryant has never had a close encounter of the extraordinarily wrong kind. There’s no dealing with the pain “after.” There is only dropping to the ground, curling up into the fetal position and trying—often in vain—to not vomit all over one’s self.
Ibaka claimed after Sunday’s game that he had no malicious intent on the play and was “just trying to get good position.” While that comment not just begs but screams the question, “Position to do what exactly?” good taste and general decorum dictate that particular line of discussion end here.
In any event, Ibaka deserved a suspension. But perhaps some good can come of this. Perhaps basketball coaches the world over can use the YouTube footage of the incident as a warning to their players, complete with an admonition.
“Don’t try this at home … or on the road … or anywhere else, for that matter.”
Hoops Habit's assistant editor is also a veteran of 20-plus years in the newspaper industry as a writer and editor. His roots are as a sports writer and later in his career transitioned to news for several years. He also assisted with the development and maintenance of a newspaper website and also has experience in the advertising arena. Currently a self-employed sports commentator with a locally syndicated radio show and blog, he is currently based in Upper Michigan.