In the aftermath of a heartbreaking loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers has taken to Twitter to call out Shane Battier for what Hibbert believed was an intentional low blow.
U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. Ill be there 2protect the rim. That wasn't inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) May 23, 2013
Even after having a chance to sleep on it, Hibbert was apparently still angry enough to fire a shot at the Miami Heat veteran. But hey, at least this one was above the belt. Watch—if you dare—the play in question:
It's hard to argue with Hibbert on this one. Battier came barreling into the lane on what had to be one of the half-dozen or so drives he'd even attempted this season. The savvy veteran may not find himself in the lane often, but he has a reputation as one of the NBA's most cerebral players. He had to know that challenging Hibbert was going to end badly for him.
So, instead of rising up and attempting to convert an improbable shot over the hulking big man, Battier took a page out of Karl Malone's book and thrust out a knee at Hibbert's vulnerable bathing-suit area.
It was a pretty vicious shot—one that left both Hibbert and the viewing public grimacing.
Who suffered more pain during that Shane Battier drive: Roy Hibbert or the audience?— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 23, 2013
We know Battier is famous for his pregame preparation. Moneyball author Michael Lewis illuminated the Duke product's intense study habits in a famous New York Times piece in 2009. Battier earned the nickname "The No-Stats All-Star" for his tireless effort to understand the unappreciated nuances of team defense.
He pores over scouting reports and is one of the few players who actually requests the advanced stats printouts from his team's analytics department. So maybe he knew something about how to attack Hibbert after all.
Battier read a 1500 page scouting report to learn that Hibbert is sensitive to getting hit in the nuts— J. Doug Hatings (@basquiatball) May 23, 2013
I guess sometimes the most effective ideas are the simplest.
Anyway, Battier rightfully earned an offensive foul for his airborne attack. But perhaps he's setting himself up for a second career in another sport.
Shane Battier's Muay Thai knee game is pretty strong.— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) May 23, 2013
Unfortunately for the Pacers, the direct hits to the jewels didn't stop with Battier's knee on Hibbert. Later in the game, Norris Cole got into the act by connecting on an uppercut to David West's man parts.
Unlike Hibbert, West hasn't responded in any social media format to Cole's shot. But that's probably because he's too busy thinking of ways to flatten the Miami guard the next time they come into contact. Cole is going to have to be extra careful over the balance of the series, as West is one of the last guys you'd want to hold a grudge against you.
To be fair to Cole, there's at least a far-fetched argument that his play wasn't intentional. Obviously, Battier's doesn't share that distinction.
Game 1 was a hotly contested affair, and now we know that tempers are still a little raw. Expect the rest of this series to feature more than its fair share of hard fouls, menacing staredowns and, apparently, disgruntled tweets.