Thursday, May 2, 2013

NBA Must Penalize Cheap Shots More Harshly

If J.R. Smith was suspended one game for clearing the air space that he is entitled to as an offensive player by throwing an elbow into the jaws of Jason Terry, there should be numerous other plays in these playoffs that should be under review by the league offices. The fact is, what Smith did looked really bad, but for those of us who actually play the game, I think we all know that Terry deserved a shot to the chops for cutting off Smith's room to operate offensively.

After calling a timeout during game 2, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was undercut by Rockets guard Patrick Beverly, injuring Westbrook's knee. The play was clearly not accidental. Westbrook knew what Beverly had done as soon he slapped the press table in frustration. Beverly took out Westbrook's knees. It was a cheap shot, and one that could seriously dash all title hopes for the Thunder, who now must rely on the inexperienced Reggie Jackson to carry the load in the back court. It was a play that was much more condemnable than the one Smith had made, and yet there was not even a foul call, much less a suspension.
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook falls to the ground after being knocked over by Rockets guard Patrick Beverly. Westbrook is now out for the remainder of the season. (Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Westbrook was not the only one to be the recipient of a cheap blow. Though Carmelo Anthony stayed in the game, he was the victim of a dirty play on the part of Kevin Garnett. After setting a screen, Garnett yanked Anthony's shoulder, the same one Melo had injured earlier in the season. Carmelo was in pain for a couple of minutes, but stayed on the court. These types of cheap shots that are meant to injure other players have no place in the game. Garnett clearly intended to injure Anthony by pulling his arm. This is something that should garner a suspension. While Smith's blow to Terry's head looked bad, this act on the part of Garnett was absolutely deplorable. Further stoking Carmelo's fire, Jordan Crawford opened his big mouth and said less than savory things about Carmelo's wife. If there's any way to fuel a fire of an opposing team, it's talking about another player's loved ones.

Simply put, these cheap shots and out of line trash talk have no place in the game, and should be penalized far more harshly than Smith's elbow. The NBA needs to consider the fact that some plays just look bad, but that some really are bad, and are deserved of stiffer penalties, especially if they result in the effective injury of another player.