The Haywood Incident: A Final Word
Put yourself in this all too familiar situation: You see a player on the team you root for commit a foul on an opposing player going for a shot…..but the foul isn’t strong enough. Actually, the foul is rather clement as the opposing player brushes it off and scores the basket, And 1. What do you say to yourself? “If you’re going to foul the guy, don’t let him get a shot off!”
My truthful opinion: Brendan Haywood’s foul on LeBron James deserved a flagrant 1 and not a flagrant 2.
But…..I understand why the referees felt the need to toss Haywood from the game. And don’t worry, I’m not pulling the “Superstar Call/David Stern Conspiracy” card. At that point in the 3rd quarter, the refs had to do something, as they were well aware of the situation….. from the war of words off the court to the blade cutting tension on it. A message needed to be sent to both teams: crossing the line beyond ‘physical play’ will not be tolerated. Do I like being on the losing end of that message, and the game? Of course not.
I will contend that the act of Brendan Haywood’s foul was no worse that Anderson Varejao’s arm swipe at Andray Blatche’s head.
However, the subsequent result of Haywood’s foul appeared much worse, especially in the surroundings of an impassioned crowd and an emphatic protectionist coach. I blame neither Mike Brown nor Cleveland fans for their emotion, as many of us in Wizards Nation should admit that we would have reacted in a similar fashion.
We can debate the merits of which foul was or was not a “basketball play” for years and will never come to a consensual conclusion. There might be a child’s handful of players in the NBA who would intentionally attempt to hurt someone. I’d like to think there are none, but let’s go with the law of averages. In any case, I truly believe that no such players exist on either of these teams. Anderson Varejao was hoping for a block but got an armful of face instead when Andray Blatche transferred the ball for protection. Brendan Haywood wanted to keep LeBron from getting a shot off when he turned and saw the first train from Akron coming into his stop with no brakes. Haywood intended to halt that train and not to derail it from the tracks.
Did the LBJ train derail? Yes. Should Haywood be held culpable despite his intent not to harm? Of course. I’ve already stated that the refs were right to remove Haywood from the game. But more so to quell escalating emotions between both teams and not as punishment to someone whom various interested parties have equated to a rabid animal.
In the first two games, Eddie Jordan was out coached by Mike Brown. Not so much from an Xs and Os standpoint; I’ll concede that point as it’s not part of my debate. Rather, Eddie has displayed what I’ll refer to as a lack of institutional control. Mike Brown has done an excellent job of preparing his team, building off last year’s playoff run, and he has been successful in politicking the media and the referees. After all, if it’s worked for Phil Jackson, why not give it a try?
As this series moves forward, I can only hope for two things: that we see no more fouls from either side which may be misconstrued as a dirty play, and that the refs do not call the subsequent games so tight that the flow of basketball is affected.
As a Wizards fan, I’m already embarrassed enough that my team has not backed up their talk. Here’s to a competitive series from here on out and may the best team win.
“Nothing was meant behind the foul, It was a bang-bang play and he said himself: He’s 6-9, 260, so if you go out there and try to foul him lightly, he’s going to score the basketball. So there was nothing malicious. I apologize to LeBron James. I didn’t mean to hurt him. It’s not one of those things.” [Washington Post]
The Hard Foul Roundup [via Wizards Insider]
In Game 1, James responded to a hard foul from Andray Blatche by blasting Blatche in the face with a forearm and in Game 2, Devin Brown took Roger Mason Jr. down hard on a breakaway layup, Anderson Varejao cracked Blatche in the face as Blatche went up for a layup and Delonte West laid a hard foul on Antonio Daniels as Daniels went to the hoop. Varejao received a flagrant 1 for his hit on Blatche but none of those plays created the perception that the Cavs are somehow playing dirty.
“Things got blown out of proportion with the talk that happened the course of the season, but the man is coming down the lane! Do not let him score! I mean, that’s basketball. When I come down the lane, when Gilbert comes down the lane, they put you on your ass! It’s no difference during the course of 82.” [Antawn Jamison via Wizards Outlet]
“I’m going to play the same way. That was just a bang-bang unfortunate incident. I saw him at the last minute and tried to foul him and he was already up in the air. I’m not going to change the way I play.” [Brendan Haywood via WashingtonWizardsBlog]
Haywood’s Possibly Incitant Comments [via Wizards Insider]
“Every time, LeBron gets fouled, Mike comes running out there like he got shot or something. Calm down Mike. It’s not that serious. We’re not trying to take him out. It’s all within the confines of the game. I don’t see how coaches should be running out on the court anyway. Isn’t there a coaches’ box? Since we’re talking about the confines of league rules, he shouldn’t be out of the box.”
“If that’s Delonte West I fouled like that, do they throw me out? Probably not.”
“C’mon Mike. That man’s name is LeBron James not LeBron Brown. He’ s not your son.”
that this photo is pretty comical.
Aaron Josefczyk – Reuters