Take a look at photos from the playoffs, including the Magic finishing off LeBron and the Cavs in Game 6.
Again, this is a familiar refrain from Shaq. But after watching the developments in two playoff games Tuesday night, it's hard not to agree with him.
In the first quarter against the Sixers, Orlando's Dwight Howard leveled a pretty hard elbow into the side of Sam Dalembert's head. Howard was responding to some rather forceful shoving he'd gotten from Dalembert. As Howard explained Tuesday night: "It's very physical in the paint, and it's been physical the whole series. ... It's been a dogfight the whole series. We're trying to become a more physical team."
Nice try, Dwight, but that's not how you become a more physical team. It is how you possibly cause serious injury, but it's not how you become more physical. There's no question that Howard's elbow was way over the line and worthy of a suspension. Stu Jackson, the league's punishment guru, agreed, forcing Howard to sit out of Game 6 on Thursday in Philadelphia.
That's fine. But here's the tricky part. Why is what Howard did to Dalembert worthy of a suspension, while the hard foul that Rajon Rondo gave to Bulls center Brad Miller at the end of the Boston-Chicago game not worthy of a flagrant foul?
The answer is back in what Shaq said. Big guys just don't get a break.
In case you missed it, in the closing seconds of overtime with the Bulls trailing by two in Boston, Miller took a pass and broke free at the foul line, racing unimpeded to the basket. Rondo scooted over from the right wing and did what he had to do to prevent Miller from making the tying layup.
Unfortunately, what Rondo had to do was smack Miller in the face. He had no chance to make a play on the ball, which was way out of his reach at that point. He had no choice but to foul Miller's head, and bloodied his lip in the process. That's what a flagrant foul is.
It wasn't called, though, and Miller missed the free throws. Even after review by the league, no flagrant was assessed. Which is pretty absurd.
Let's try reversing positions because we've certainly seen it before. Let's suppose that it was Rondo going flying toward the basket, at 171 pounds. Let's suppose it was Miller flying from the side, at 261 pounds, swiping his hand at Rondo's head and landing the exact same hit on Rondo that Rondo landed on him. Now, Rondo would be higher in the air and thus would be thrown way off balance, he would absorb more force from the Miller blow and he would go sprawling to the floor, taking a nasty crash landing on his back.
What would happen? Flagrant foul on Miller. No question. It's much more dramatic when a point guard gets hit than when a point guard gives out a hit.
But it should be no more or less legal. I really believe that because Rondo is lighter and because Miller has the vertical leap of your average phone booth, the blow Rondo gave out did not look as dramatic, did not involve a mid-air loss of balance. That kind of drama registers immediately with refs and forces them to make the flagrant call. Without the dramatic fall, they didn't have the guts to make the call.
Howard is a big guy, and was duly punished. In the case of Miller, Rondo is a little guy. Shaq could easily predict the result: no call, no punishment.
PBT: Lance Stephenson led Indiana with 25 points in a win that eliminated his hometown team. Stephenson and the Pacers will face the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
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