I don’t normally write about sports, but this is my blog. There has been a controversy brewing over Matthew Dellavedova being a dirty player. This had been based primarily on three plays this post season. So, let’s analyze those three plays.
This controversy wouldn’t exist if the announcers and television producers were being fair, but I think what happened is they were doing their job. By that, I mean that were creating controversy for the sake of television drama. They placed the focus on what happened after Dellavedova and Gibson were on the ground. The focus should be on what happened immediately preceding.
Gibson gave Dellavedova a mild clotheslines as they were fighting through picks. Watch the tape and see Gibson’s body language. He was looking for a fight and was looking to put a hurt on Dellavedova. He was angry, because a smaller guy was playing him tough. After the mild clothesline, he then gave Dellavedova a shoulder on a pick. That shoulder was a foul, and possibly a flagrant 1 if called. Then, as Dellavedova boxes Gibson out, Gibson just steamrolled right over the back of him. It’s clear on the video that it wasn’t just body contact, because Gibson’s arms and shoulders raised as he clearly pushes Dellavedova. This should end the controversy. Right there is the flagrant 2 if the refs are doing their job, and any response from Dellavedova that isn’t malicious is merely the natural reaction of someone protecting themselves from assault.
So, what about the “leg lock”? I love how the announcers pick that term, as if Dellavedova performed some sort of MMA move. Gibson was looking for a fight. He had already assaulted Dellavedova three times and Dellavedova was letting him know he wasn’t happy about it. Dellavedova wasn’t playing dirty. Gibson was playing dirty.
Well, the refs weren’t doing their job on this one. Watch the video. The reason the ball was loose was because Dennis Schröder was reaching in. He clearly bumps Dellavedova from behind. Had the refs made the call, the play would have been stopped before the injury.
After the ball went loose, Dellavedova did what any hustling player would do. He went after the ball. This whole notion that he rolled on Korver’s ankle is ridiculous. He grabbed the ball and spun away from his opponent to protect possession.
Again, the announcers and the producers seem to be focusing on what makes for controversy and television drama. They failed to point out that Dellavedova was fouled. They failed to point out that had the refs made the call, the play would have stopped before the injury. They also used inflammatory language of Dellavedova rolling onto Korver's ankle. Dellavedova did nothing dirty and the only foul on the play was committed by Schröder.
Seems Al Horford and Taj Gibson are both afflicted by the same malady—that they become enraged when a smaller man plays them tough. First, Horford dropped a shoulder into Timofey Mozgov. It was deliberate and it was dirty. He should have been called for a charge. Demarre Carroll fell over Mozgov, who was on the ground after receiving the shoulder. This started the domino effect of bodies hitting the floor. Horford started it and then he drops an elbow onto Dellavedova. The dirty player was no doubt Horford!
Horford then goes on to make some post-game comments that can only qualify as jackassery. “He’s got to learn. He’s only been in this league for a couple of years but he’s got to learn that at the end of the day, it’s a big brotherhood here. Guys look out for each other and I don’t think it was malicious but he’s got to learn.” So, apparently Horford was trying to teach Dellavedova a lesson. What could that lesson be? The only lesson that seems likely, considering the facts, is Horford thinks smaller men shouldn’t play him tough.
Only two patterns seem to emerge from this controversy. 1) Dellavedova plays hard. 2) NBA big men develop tempers when smaller guys out hustle them.