Judging by her 18-point, eight-rebound performance Saturday night against Fresno State, it appears Brittney Griner has put a moment of bad judgement behind her.
Of course, who knows how she'll react the next time someone pulls a thug-like move and tries to toss her to the floor, ala Jordan Barncastle. Perhaps, she won't have to worry about it, as she'll just go up against players who understand that basketball is a physical one but not one in which WWE-like tactics are used to get a person off your back.
However, should Griner once again be faced with some punk like Barncastle, she should keep one thing in mind; don't lower yourself to her level. Sure, there might be some initial satisfaction in popping the jerk, but the guilt and ridicule that will follow isn't worth it.
In fact, you'll likely give your foe's enablers and apologists an excuse to try and turn her into a victim, which is what's happened with Barncastle. It's amazing to read how many people are actually saying she did nothing wrong or was only committing a hard foul. To former, I would say get your eyesight checked, and to the latter, a hard foul is when you chop somebody on the arm, not when you attempt to throw somebody across the court.
Griner had the decency to apologize for her actions. Perhaps Barncastle can show just as much and admit she instigated the whole incident.
Perhaps two of the dumbest comparisons to Griner's actions have been to Oregon's LaGarrett Blount and former Los Angles Laker Kermit Washington. The first sucker punched a Boise State player who was looking away from him and then tried to attack fans in stands. The second slugged Rudy Tomjanovich while the former Houston Rocket was doing nothing more than running to aid a fallen teammate.
If anything, Griner's action are reminiscent of Kareem Abdul Jabbar. In 1977, Jabbar, then in his third year with the Lakers, was the victim of gutless cheap shot to the stomach by Milwaukee's Kent Benson, an action which caused the future Hall of Famer to double over in pain. Understandably angry, but not thinking clearly, Jabbar used some of his training by Bruce Lee to knock out Benson with one punch.
The action proved costly, not only in the court of public opinion, but physically too, as Jabbar missed several games with a broken hand. When he came back, though—this is the part that Griner should emulate—the big man focused his energies on playing basketball and eventually became a key fixture in the Laker dynasty of the 1980s. Never again did he allow lesser players like Benson to get his goat.
So good luck Brittney. You made an understandable mistake, but we all have at one time or another.
Just remember that when someone like Barncastle decides to punk it up with you, just walk away. You're better than they are, both as a person and a player.