Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka will not be suspended, but will instead be fined by the NBA for punching Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin in the groin on Sunday, according to Sports Illustrated writer Chris Mannix (via Twitter):
Ibaka was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul during the game but was not ejected for the chop.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 6, at 12:15 p.m. ET by Patrick Clarke
After it was announced that Serge Ibaka would be fined, and not suspended for his chop to Blake Griffin's groin in last Sunday's game, Griffin took to Twitter to poke some fun at the incident:
Blake Griffin @blakegriffin32
Kid Blake: Who are you? Future Blake: you from the future... Don't listen to anything else I've told you just start wearing a cup.3/6/2013, 12:58:21 AM
Miami Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James also tweeted a response to the fine announcement, bringing up a similar incident that occurred earlier in the season involving Wade and a subsequent suspension:
All I can say is WoW....no pun intended but really....and I get suspended and lose 200 grand... #someexplainingtodo3/5/2013, 11:59:24 PM
LeBron James @KingJames
So explain to me the difference? My teammate gets a 1 game suspension and 150k+ taking away from him for his groin altercation #strangetome3/5/2013, 10:27:34 PM
It seems that the popular opinion around the league is that Ibaka's flagrant foul warranted not only a major fine, but a suspension as well.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 5, at 4:21 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
The figures have been released for the Ibaka fine. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman reported on Twitter that Ibaka will pay the NBA a pretty penny for his misconduct during Sunday's game:
Darnell Mayberry @DarnellMayberry
Serge Ibaka has been fined $25,000 for his hit on Blake Griffin.3/5/2013, 9:17:31 PM
Royce Young of CBS Sports also reported that the NBA upgraded Ibaka's foul to a Flagrant 2, reversing the decision made by Dan Crawford, Derrick Collins and Kevin Cutler:
Royce Young @royceyoung
The league also upgraded Ibaka's Flagrant 1 to a Flagrant 2, meaning he should have been ejected.3/5/2013, 9:22:21 PM
---End of update---
The incident occurred late in the fourth quarter of the Thunder's 108-104 win at Staples Center on Sunday afternoon, after the video replay showed Ibaka delivered a shot to Griffin's groin, sending L.A.'s high-flyer to the ground.
Ibaka defended his actions after the game, claiming he wasn't out to hurt Griffin (via USA Today's Adi Joseph):
He hit my hands away. He's strong, so when he grabs you, your jersey or whatever, and you try to defend yourself and rebound. So maybe you can do some move, not to hurt, (but) just to get good position. But then something happens where you get hurt in the paint. It's not anything where I want to try to hurt him. I'm not that kind of person. I just try to play hard, and that's it.
Although Ibaka's comments aren't shocking based on who they are coming from, most who watched Sunday's marquee Western Conference showdown knew immediately after seeing the initial replay that Ibaka's chop was anything but a basketball play and no doubt unnecessary.
The argument can certainly be made that it was intentional, as the windup and force of the blow made it look like a mean-spirited shot to a defenseless player.
Griffin wasn't seriously injured, but Ibaka, who was not ejected for the shot, proved to be huge for the Thunder down the stretch, scoring on a three-point play with a minute left to give Oklahoma City a four-point lead.
The referee's call, and the result of the game, could have huge playoff implications, as the Thunder currently lead the Clippers by 1.5 games for the second seed in the Western Conference standings.
As Oklahoma City's fourth-leading scorer, Ibaka is averaging 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this season on 56.3 percent shooting from the field. The 23-year-old doesn't have a reputation as a dirty player, but this incident certainly won't make him popular among his NBA peers.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.