After suffering a broken nose and concussion thanks to a hard foul by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade in the NBA All-Star Game, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant's status in the immediate future is uncertain. Wade doesn't deserve the criticism he has gotten, however.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Bryant's teammates are none too happy about the Wade smacking Bryant across the face with his arm. While that is understandable since Bryant could possibly miss some action, things are being blown out of proportion.
"I think it was out of place, out of line, for the moment and the game that it was, but I don't think he intended to break his nose," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "He just fouled him kind of hard there and got his nose. But again, I don't think it was the place to foul like that."
Perhaps Gasol's feeling is the same as that of the overwhelming majority, but that is simply a fundamental flaw when it comes to all-star games. Essentially, Gasol is saying that the all-star game means nothing, so there was "no place" for Wade to foul Bryant hard.
He's right in that the all-star game is little more than a glorified exhibition, but it really shouldn't be. Every major sports league deals with the issue of making all-star games meaningful, and the NBA is obviously no different.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, there is a very good chance that the concussion could cause Bryant to miss Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kobe was diagnosed on Tuesday and must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours in order to be eligible in accordance with the league's policy.
Wade certainly had no intentions of breaking Kobe's nose or concussing him. He simply wanted to prevent the basket. In a lot of ways I consider what Wade did to be admirable. The result of the foul is certainly unfortunate and unintended from Wade's perspective, but he was out there trying to win what most consider to be a garbage game.
In some ways Wade's foul was akin to Pete Rose running over catcher Ray Fosse in an effort to win the 1970 MLB All-Star Game. Rose wasn't bashed by Fosse's teammates or the media, though, because going all out to win was widely accepted during that era, just as it should be today.
Not surprisingly, Wade's teammates and have come to his defense, and rightfully so. According to Tim Reynolds of the Huffington Post, Heat forward and fellow all-star Chris Bosh thought that the foul was a positive in that it showed competitiveness in an otherwise meaningless game.
"Hey, what do you want?" Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "It was all about the game. It came down to the last possession. It was all for the fans. That's what they want. You get competitors out there, it may go a certain particular way for a limited amount a time, but after a while guys, they're really going to get after it. And those make the best games. That's what people want to see."
Maybe Wade should have just let up and allowed another uncontested dunk as other players had been doing all night, but at least somebody decided to take a stand. I doubt Wade was trying to be a martyr in any way, but his hard foul had to resonate with fans who were waiting for something, anything, of note to happen in that game.
Had Wade committed that foul in a regular season game, then I doubt that there would be any uproar whatsoever. The fact that it happened in what is supposed to be a friendly event is clearly what has Kobe's teammates and the media in a tizzy.
According to McMenamin, Wade reached out to Bryant to apologize, but I hope he isn't sorry for committing the foul. It's fine for D-Wade to be apologetic for injuring Bryant since that wasn't the intent, but the foul itself was fine, and I wish there was more of it in all-star Ggames.
The outrage shown by Gasol and Andrew Bynum is predictable, but it exposes a fundamental flaw in the mentality of today's athlete. If that foul had occurred 20 or more years ago, it wouldn't have even been an issue.
In this day and age when every player is supposed to be buddies with everyone else, it was refreshing to see a little bit of passion. Perhaps if everyone went all-out in all-star games like Wade, they wouldn't be the laughingstocks of professional sports.