By Ben Golliver
The NBA announced Tuesday that Thunder forward Serge Ibaka has been fined $25,000 but not suspended for his low blow on Clippers forward Blake Griffin during a 108-104 Oklahoma City victory at the Staples Center on Sunday. Chris Mannix of SI.com reported earlier Tuesday that Ibaka would incur a fine but avoid a suspension for the blow, which was originally ruled a flagrant foul 1. Upon reviewing the play, the NBA did upgrade the foul to a flagrant foul 2.
Ibaka is now eligible to play when the Thunder host the Lakers in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
Sunday’s intense, physical game came to a head when Ibaka and Griffin battled for rebounding position following a Matt Barnes three-point attempt. Ibaka grabbed Griffin’s right arm and then chopped down toward Griffin’s midsection, making clear contact with Griffin’s groin. Griffin went to the floor stunned and doubled over in pain.
The referees reviewed the play and assessed a flagrant foul 1, for contact deemed unnecessary, rather than a flagrant foul 2, given for contact that is both unnecessary and excessive. Because Ibaka avoided a flagrant foul 2, which requires an automatic ejection, he was able to remain in the game.
This ruling is a bit dicey given that, back in Dec. 2012, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was suspended one game for a low blow on Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo. Of course, Cousins has a lengthy track record of various infractions whereas Ibaka does not, and that prevents the two rulings from being an apples-to-apples comparison.
The ideal situation here would have involved a flagrant foul 2 being called during the game, as Ibaka’s contact of Griffin was certainly excessive. The NBA’s upgrade of Ibaka’s foul upon review has no meaningful impact once the final buzzer sounded between the Clippers and Thunder. Had Ibaka been ejected immediately, a “slap on the wrist” fine would feel like a more appropriate punishment. As is, the league looks fairly weak here: two free throws and $25,000 shouldn’t be the only punishment for such an action. That’s a dangerous precedent.
I personally can't believe he wasn't ejected and I'm just as shocked that he hasn't been suspended for the low blow.
Kobe - "I'd have smacked Ibaka in the mouth and dealt with the pain later if he did that to me."
ESPN - "Ibaka not suspended. WILL play vs Lakers."
Kobe - "Oh sh*t..."
Kind of bs that he wasn't suspended but I'll live with him getting a fine.
Now NBA players know what they can be ejected and suspended for.. Get into a little pushing match like Hibbert and Lee last week ABSOLUTELY!
Punch a dude in his junk, no problem. I guess the NBA thought it was better TV for tonights game to have Ibaka playing.
he should have been suspended numerous games for this. I hate the thunder's dirty players smh. This is horrible. Ibaka is sick and i hope someone gets him back
They have to set a precedent. Now if it happens again, he cant suspend anyone because he didnt this time. If its only a chump change fine, i dont see why more players arent going to continue playing cheap
I don't see how Serge Ibaka can hold Blake Griffin, release him to make a fist, and then proceed to viciously punch at his grown area and get no more than a fine.
Dwyane Wade and DeMarcus Cousins groin attack incidents were less vicious than Ibaka's. The only difference between the three is Ibaka doesn't really have prior dirty plays on his record while Wade and Cousins obviously do.
Hopefully if one of the Clippers bench big men decide to repay Serge the favor they'll only be fined as well.
I'm sure if they meet in the playoffs, the calm and well mannered Matt Barnes would be happy to even things up
I could be wrong but I believe the NBA punishes on a tier system, meaning this was his first time major offense so the punishment was small. Next time it will be a different story.
This is also why you see repeat offenders barely do anything at all and get punished, it's because of their history.
That being said, even as an OKC fan & resident, I still thought he should have been booted for at least 1 game.