Even though he quite blatantly hit Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin in the sensitive area, it's looking like someone among the proverbial NBA gods likes Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix has reported that the league will not suspend Ibaka and if you ask this writer, it was the right call.
No suspension coming for Serge Ibaka, I'm told. Fine only for the crotch shot on Blake Griffin.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) March 5, 2013
In the Thunder's win over the Clippers on March 3, Ibaka and Griffin were awaiting to see if a shot would turn into a basket or a rebounding opportunity and at a key point, Ibaka hit Griffin below the belt. However, his actions were not worthy of a suspension.
Let's take a look at the tape. It's clear that both Ibaka and Griffin are waiting to see if Matt Barnes' 3-point attempt will fall, which it does. That said, it's safe to say that Ibaka jumped the gun in hitting Griffin.
Moreover, hitting Griffin was completely unnecessary. The basket was good, so no boxing out of any kind needed to take place. Long story short, Ibaka's hit on Griffin was Grade A dirty.
Just the same, no suspension is necessary. As blatant as Ibaka's hit is, it's hard to argue that it is blatant ENOUGH to warrant a suspension.
This is because the shot to Griffin's groin, as blatant as it is, is not as bad in comparison to other cheap shots that have earned players suspensions.
For example, take Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus' Cousins similar shot against Dallas Mavericks' guard O.J. Mayo this season. Some may argue that this hit is so subtle to the point where Cousins did not deserve his resulting one-game suspension, but the fact of the matter is that the intent to injure was there. Cousins' known attitude issues did not help matters either.
Should Serge Ibaka have been suspended?
The same can be said for Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, who infamously elbowed James Harden in the head towards the end of last season. That hit was even more blatant and earned World Peace, whose penchant for being a hot-head is well-known, a seven-game suspension.
In Ibaka's case, let's take a second look at the video. He did get rough with Griffin, and it's no surprise that people would want him suspended.
However, though a tough defensive player and strong interior presence, Ibaka is not exactly what one would call a dirty player. This is really his first major offense and given his reputation as a stand-up guy, a suspension wasn't really warranted. If his hit on Griffin was any harder or more blatant, then chances are he would have earned a suspension.
Instead, the league appears to have taken all factors into consideration and, as a result, made the right decision. This means that Ibaka will indeed suit up for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, no longer having to worry about the looming threat of suspension.