Thanks to the magic gremlins at YouTube, we now have direct video evidence that Kobe did, in fact, intend
to hit Manu Ginobili in the face last Sunday
In the interest of fairness, I removed my "I hate Kobe" baseball cap, my "Kobe sucks" t-shirt, my "Kobe eats live baby kittens" zubaz pants, and even my "Kobe Beefsteak" underwear (don't ask). Once I was ready to be completely impartial, I watched the video about 20 times. It breaks down like this: Kobe uses a shot fake to get Bruce Bowen into the air, drives past, elevates for the shot, has the shot stuffed by Ginobili, and then, as the players are coming down, Kobe swings his arm into Manu's face. Look, folks -- that was no "unintentional elbow," especially considering the fact that Kobe had to swing his arm wide right
to clip Manu (who was beside him, not in front of him). I've played enough basketball, taken enough jumpers, and thrown enough elbows to realize that arms don't accidentally
flail that way. They just don't.
And everybody should have seen this coming, considering Kobe's history of elbowery and the currrent "violence sensitivty" in the league (particulary in the wake of the Knicks/Nuggets brawl). Gone are those joyful days when Kevin McHale could clothesline Kurt Rambis and Robert Parish could sucker punch Bill Laimbeer three times in the face in front of the ref without being called for a foul. (Although it should be noted that Parish did serve a one-game suspension for that service to humanity.) The league isn't messing around this year, even if you are a marquee player: Carmelo Anthony got 15 games for his bitchslap-and-run
, and Kevin Garnett even got a one-game suspension for throwing an air punch
at Antonio McDyess. Furthermore, Golden State's Baron Davis, Chicago's Andres Nocioni and Phoenix's Raja Bell have all been suspended for rough play. So once again, the moral of this story is "Throw elbows at your own risk."Unnatural Acts? Not allowed:
Stu Jackson, the league's vice president in charge of discipline, provided a clear explanation
of the suspension: "There was contact made with Ginobili above the shoulders. This particular action by Kobe was an unnatural basketball act. After he followed through with a shot, he drove a stiff arm backwards in a hard motion and struck Ginobili in the head." Yeah, that's pretty much what happened all right.