Udonis Haslem Suspension: Heat Forward Shouldn't Lose Game for Retaliation Foul

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2012

Larry Bird called his Indiana Pacers "soft" after their embarrassing loss to the Miami Heat last night. Make no mistake about it, he's exactly right, but he should've called the NBA soft altogether.

Let's face it, Larry Legend would be arguably the dirtiest player in the league if he played today. The NBA he played in was great, players literally hated each other and it made for a fantastic basketball atmosphere. Today's NBA stars only care about playing together, being friends, making money and wearing goofy clothing.

That's all fine and dandy, but let's stop crying every time someone gets fouled hard.

Last night, Heat forward Udonis Haslem took offense to the foul Tyler Hansbrough committed on Dwyane Wade. Less than a minute after it occurred, he retaliated with a hard, flagrant foul on Hansbrough down the other end of the court.

The ref wisely gave him a Flagrant 1, keeping him in the game in the process.

Now everyone's looking to the NBA to step in and punish Haslem for something that was commonplace not so many years ago. You can be sure every single player on the Heat applauded Haslem for his foul.

Hansbrough's rake across the eyes of Wade was, without question, a foul worthy of retaliation. The ref was there, he saw Haslem make literally no play on the basketball, but he made the call because he knew damn well that Hansbrough deserved it.

The NBA has gone incredibly soft in recent years, and we're fueling it by calling for things like suspensions for a retaliation foul. Haslem didn't start a fight. He didn't throw a punch. He didn't elbow someone in the back of the head. He simply committed a hard, intentional foul meant send a message.

Everyone might be piling on you right now Udonis Haslem, but I got your message loud and clear. Well done, sir.