As Yogi Berra would say, it was like deja vu all over again watching Dwight Howard swat Derrick Rose out of the air and send him crashing to the court last night in Orlando on the TNT Game of the Night.
The previous encounter happened on Feb. 10 when Rose fell hard on his backside and suffered a bruised right hip, causing him to leave the game.
Some people questioned that play, but I thought it was a legitimate hard foul with no bad intent.
This time I'm not so sure.
Rose drove hard to the basket near the end of the first quarter and left his feet as Howard slid over and appeared to hip-check him with no attempt to swat at the ball. Rose went down hard and came up holding his left wrist.
He left the game shortly after that play and had X-rays taken. The MRI he took today revealed a sprain in the left wrist. He's out of tonight's game against Miami and is listed as day-to-day.
Howard was called for a foul, and that was it.
The NBA rule for flagrant fouls defines them as unnecessary and/or excessive. There are two types of flagrant fouls, a flagrant one and flagrant two.
A flagrant one is when a defensive player swings and makes hard contact with an offensive player, or makes hard contact and then follows through.
A flagrant two is listed as unnecessary and excessive contact.
Both fouls carry a penalty of two free throws and the team keeping the ball. The flagrant two foul adds ejection for the player who commits the foul.
There is no question this was a flagrant foul.
You could make the argument that he should have been thrown out of the game.
If he was making no attempt to block the shot, and he was hitting a player in the air in a vulnerable position, my interpretation would be excessive and unnecessary.
I'm sure the NBA doesn't want to lose star players like Derrick Rose to injury because some macho "bad ass" thinks if you drive through his lane, he's going to put you on the hardwood.
Howard thought it was amusing. "I think if you hit something that doesn't move, you usually end up falling," he chuckled after the game.
Nicknamed "Superman" for his muscular build and his performance wearing the cape during the slam dunk contest last year, Howard must think he is immune to retaliation.
In hockey, you have your enforcers. If a player commits a cheap shot on one of the opponent's star players, you're going to be dropping your gloves, and maybe dripping some blood on the ice.
Basketball used to be that way too, when players like Maurice Lucas roamed the lane.
If he were playing with Rose, Howard might have run into his "kryptonite," because Lucas wouldn't have let him get away with that cheap shot. And if anyone saw the beating he put on Artis Gilmore in the ABA, you know what I'm talking about.
But that was the old days.
Back when Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier patrolled the backcourt for the Bulls, there used to be a no-layup rule.
In more recent times, the Detroit Pistons employed that with the "Jordan rules" when playing the Bulls.
Nowadays it's a gentler game, and there's a reason for that. It makes no sense to take your best players out of the game because of incidents like this.
The NBA markets players. Come see LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are coming to your town. Watch the matchup on TNT tonight featuring Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
It's not quite as catchy when you say tune in to watch Acie Law and the Chicago Bulls.
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