League officials looking at Wade's wayward elbow on Stephenson
Should Dwyane Wade be suspended for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Heat and Pacers for his elbow to Lance Stephenson's head?
UPDATED 5:29 p.m. ET
I'll say this: Dwyane Wade's potentially suspension-worthy elbow to Lance Stephenson's head is one of the strangest basketball plays that I've ever seen. And it has the attention of the NBA, which is looking into the Game 2 incident.
A lot is left to interpretation when it comes to Wade's intent on the play during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday night. Did he intend to clobber Stephenson in the side of the head with his elbow as he ran up the floor in transition? Was he jumping to avoid Stephenson and inadvertently made contact, pulling his elbow back once he realized what he'd done?
Both explanations are plausible, but there's no possible rationale for this part of it: Why did Wade leap into Stephenson in the first place? If Stephenson was in Wade's path as he made his way up the floor with nobody else around, why not just run around him?
It's a bizarre play, and I don't have a firm feeling for how the league will handle it from a punishment standpoint. League officials, of course, were looking into the matter on Saturday.
Nobody can read Wade's mind as to whether he intended to elbow Stephenson in the head as he ran by. But we can all agree that Stephenson got hit in the head with an elbow because of actions by Wade that could've been avoided.
I am far from puritanical when it comes to the over-sanitization of the NBA playoffs. It's a big boy's game, and you can't suspend or fine people every time things get rough. The Pacers' David West took a cheap shot at Mario Chalmers as the Heat guard ran through the paint in Game 2, elbowing him in the shoulder.
No foul was called on either play, by the way, despite lots of other fouls being called for far less.
If the NBA fined and suspended players for cheap shots, there would be no more need for charity in the world and not enough players to finish the games. But a cheap shot to the shoulder is not the same as a cheap shot to the head. In fact, a reckless shot to the head -- intentional or not -- is by definition worse than what West did.
Did Stephenson embellish the contact, the way that Memphis' Tony Allen did at the end of Game 2 when fouled by San Antonio's Manu Ginobili? Maybe. I don't particularly want Wade to demonstrate on me to find out. Flopping is the worst, and it's happening all over the floor in both conference finals. But nobody -- not the NBA, not the refs, not the coaches and certainly not the players -- has found a remedy for flopping.
The NBA has, however, found a remedy for concussions. Reckless blows to the head, whether intentional or not, should be punished. Once the disciplinary crew in New York starts trying to judge the severity of one blow to the head vs. the next based only on a TV replay, their concussion policy will have become a joke.
So with all this being said, I don't know whether Wade will be fined or suspended for this. I do know that if he has to miss Game 3 in order to clarify any possible misunderstandings about the league's renewed vigilance regarding concussions and contact with an opponent's head, you won't hear any complaints from me.
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