The NBA acted swiftly in punishing New Orleans Hornets Hornets big man Jason Smith, after his flagrant foul on superstar Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. Yet, was the discipline of Smith justified? Should Smith have even been ejected? Was this an overreaction by the NBA? More importantly what has happened to the NBA?
By definition, the foul by Smith was flagrant and it’s clear why the referees chose to eject him. Yet, being called for a flagrant and being ejected should have been the extent of the consequences for Smith. The NBA had other ideas though and it was recently announced that Smith had been suspended for two games, which was absurd.
Even worse though was the need for Smith to apologize to Griffin, the Clippers organization and basketball fans. This is the latest example of how soft the NBA has gotten and unfortunately there seems to be no signs of it stopping. Smith wasn’t attempting to injure Griffin, he was making sure that he was not going to be able to score an easy basket.
In most cases NBA players today wouldn’t have even attempted to make any kind of play and instead just watch as Griffin goes in for another dunk and Smith did not do that. He made sure that Griffin was going to have to earn the two points from the free throw line. The only way for Smith to do that was by lowering his shoulder into the back of Griffin who was about to begin his drive to the basket. If NBA players do foul on drives it usually is with minimal contact and still doesn’t impede the progress of the offensive player.
As as result of the play it meant the flagrant foul call and the ejection of Smith, yet the suspension for two games went overboard! If this same situation was brought to the NBA and it happened to be Smith, David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge, or Spencer Hawes would there have been a suspension involved? Not very likely.
Hornets head coach Monty Williams has a point that there’s a double standard. Yet, it won’t change anytime soon as the superstars are what draw fans to the games and it really doesn’t matter what the situation is. Just watch a NBA game and it is shown virtually every night, a superstar can get a foul call just because a referee believes that contact will be made, while a role player could be in the same exact situation and no whistle is blown.
Don’t look for that double standard to go away anytime soon as the superstars have been coddled for years, which is what makes Smith apologizing for the flagrant foul, ridiculous and unnecessary.