On the final shot of the Lakers-Hawks game Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant took a baseline fadeaway jumper against Dahntay Jones, came down on Jones' foot, and limped away with a "severe sprain." The Hawks ended up winning the game and the Lakers now have to wonder when Bryant is going to be able to get healthy and return to the court.
But that's not where the play ended by any means. After the game, Bryant talked openly about how dangerous it is for a defender like Jones to come underneath the legs and feet of a shooter. Via ESPN Los Angeles:
"As defensive players, you can contest shots, but you can't walk underneath players," Bryant said. "That's dangerous for the shooter."
A reporter asked Bryant if he felt like Jones' play was "deliberate."
"I don't ever want to put that on somebody, I really don't," Bryant said. "I just think players need to be made conscious of it and I think officials need to protect shooters. Period."
Deliberate or not, Bryant was upset that Wednesday likely was the Lakers' final game against the Hawks this season.
"I can't get my mind past the fact that I got to wait a year to get revenge," he said.
After Bryant was done with reporters, he took to Twitter to complain about the "effort" or "tactic" by Jones by reiterating the danger involved in getting under a shooter like that.
#dangerousplay that should have been called. Period.— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 14, 2013
Jones responded to the postgame comments by Bryant, claiming he didn't try to hurt the Lakers star in any way and that a leg kickout by an offensive player should actually result in an offensive foul.
Tape doesn't lie. Ankle was turned on the floor after the leg kick out that knocked him off balance. I would never try to hurt the man— Dahntay (@dahntay1) March 14, 2013
Leg kick that makes contact with a defensive player is an offense foul. Period. The nba changed that rule 2 yrs ago. Stop it!— Dahntay (@dahntay1) March 14, 2013
If you remember, there is some history with Bryant and Jones that dates back to the 2009 playoff series between the Lakers and Nuggets. At the time, Jones was on Denver and had the tough task of defending Bryant throughout moments in the series. In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Jones intentionally tripped Bryant on a cut to the basket.
The staunch Kobe supporters have been flooding the mentions of Jones (if you really want to check out humanity on the Internet, I suggest checking on Jones' mentions on Twitter; it's astonishing the places people go with words to a player) and many others on the Internet with reminders of this intentional trip.
Jones addressed it in his next tweet.
Now what happened in 09' I am not proud of but it was a heated playoff series with a championship on the line— Dahntay (@dahntay1) March 14, 2013
It's good that he addressed their history, but the people outraged by Bryant's injury at the feet of Jones aren't buying that these are two separate incidents, especially with him admitting to tripping Bryant in the 2009 playoffs.
When a fan tweeted to Bryant that the Lakers guard kicked out his foot and it was a freak accident, Bryant responded respectfully and disagreed with that assessment.
@thadeacon I respectfully disagree. He knows what he did and anyone with half a brain can see it. I don't want it to happen to anyone else!— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 14, 2013
Feels like this is why the Internet was invented.