The NBA needs to send a message on this one. Stu Jackson, David Stern, listen up — hard play is great, it promotes the sport and excites the fans. Dirty play has absolutely no place in basketball. What Derek Fisher did with his forearm shiver on Luis Scola last night falls into the dirty category.
Send a clear and concise message by suspending Fisher for this play. Watch the video and it is impossible not to note, as Charles Barkley points out, that Fisher turned, saw Scola and premeditated the hit to his face.
There are plenty of fans across the USA that dislike Scola — those that incorrectly call him a “Euro” and don’t like his style of play. They will be the apologists for Fisher’s actions. There can be no apologies for this play.
Meanwhile, the less obvious play that warrants some attention is the fracas between Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest under the basket. It is the duty of the officials to protect players so that they are not forced to voice their own displeasure and ultimately get ejected as Artest was in this case. Bryant played the mind games beautifully in this one — he knew full well that he would have the protection of the referees and that Artest would come across as the repeat offender serial killer.
Both plays are on display in this video:
View video here on NBA.com (embedding does not seem to be working right now)
Worth adding: Fisher has a great name around the league, probably with good reason. There is this impression that he is one of the good guys of the league, much of which inexplicably seems to come from the fact that he has a sick child. I feel for his situation with a sick child — no one would like to be in that scenario, but this should not cloud the issue at hand here. The play he made was a dirty one.
We’ve already seen other inconsistencies in the NBA’s decisions to suspend / not suspend players during these playoffs. Get this one right Stu and David.