SPORTS DOCTOR- Crying foul: Why was Kidd not suspended?
The first time I threw somebody face-first into the floor, I got the belt for my efforts. My parents didn't have a point system. Fouls, flagrant or not, immediately resulted in the belt, a thorough cleaning of the chicken house, and at least a week's hard labor.
Suffice to say the first time was also the last.
If you didn't see Jason Kidd's flagrant foul (2) against Jannero Pargo in Game Four of the first-round NBA playoffs, I suggest you take a look, but be prepared. Even the most desensitized sports fan is sure to wince.
With 7:16 left to play in the game, Pargo drove for a fast-break layup and just avoided spilling his brains all over the floor. Only his quick reflexes kept his teeth and his frontal lobe intact.
Kidd should be thanking the Man Upstairs for Pargo's reflexes. A less agile man, grabbed by the head in mid-leap and subsequently hurled to the ground, might not live to tell the tale. I wonder how many flagrant foul points the NBA awards for that?
A quick call to Tim Frank at the NBA Commissioner's office resulted in a promise to respond with that information. The point system isn't explained in the NBA rulebook, so fans depend upon the kindness of strangers to understand why Kidd's potentially murderous foul didn't warrant suspension.
Not that I'm surprised a man arrested twice for domestic abuse would claim he "wasn't trying to hurt him [Pargo]." If Kidd wanted to hurt Pargo, he knows a punch to the mouth would do the trick. It's worked for him before.
Kidd also knows that a punch to the mouth, with a fist or an elbow, is about the only flagrant foul to result in suspension. Earlier this month, the NBA suspended the Nuggets' Kenyon Martin for hitting Suns' forward Boris Diaw in the face.
Surprisingly, Vice President of Basketball Operations Michael Curry isn't silver-tongued enough to classify a punch as accidental. He should take lessons from the New York City Police Department. Still, Curry, the NBA's assessor of flagrant fouls, does his Blarney best.
If there's one thing a sports fan is not, it's naïve. It's pretty easy to ascertain if a pitcher intentionally hit a batter, if a quarterback meant to throw out of bounds, or if Sultan Ibragimov purposely punched Wladimir Klitschko in the back of the head.
Dismissing Kidd's behavior as unintentional is a slap in a fan's face (slapping warrants suspension, by the way). While dunking Pargo's head into the floor deserved the flagrant foul (2) classification of unnecessary and excessive, it's the playoffs. The NBA isn't going to suspend Kidd now.
And why should they? Play hard or go home, right? Man up, as they say. Quit crying: if you can't take the heat– well, you know the rest.
I've heard that song before, and it's a pretty tired justification for Busch League play. There's a reason some guy's catapulting into a brick wall wins on America's Funniest Home Videos; it's the same reason Ultimate Fighting is on network TV.
Do I need to spell it out?
I know what makes good TV, but I also know what makes a foul intentional. Pargo may be nearly bald, but Kidd has been pro for 13 years. He knows a bald head from a basketball. Kidd got in front of Pargo, turned his body, and lifted his arms above Pargo's head.
If you watch the footage, you'll see Kidd never reached for the ball. He purposely reached for Pargo's head and brutally threw him to the floor. He should have been suspended immediately. Even hockey fans would agree.
Tim Frank has yet to call. I imagine the NBA isn't anxious to explain its dubious suspension policy. Without a belt or a chicken house, the NBA's punishment for flagrant fouls is a joke. I wonder if the League will "man up" when a player's head bursts open on the floor.