Yanking Arms In The NBA

The NBA Playoffs are progressively getting more physical.

During the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Cleveland Cavalier forward Kevin Love had his shoulder dislocated by Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk. That play ended Love’s season.

Was it a dirty play? Kevin thought so, as do I, based convincingly on this Associated Press photo of what was occurring during the play. Look at that grip by Olynyk and the expression on his face.

Kevin Love - Kelly OlynykThere is absolutely no reason for Olynyk to be gripping Love’s arm the way he is doing, with his left hand and right forearm locking him in. Perhaps I am too old school, but this was never taught as a box-out move in any hoops leagues in which I competed.

As penalty, Olynyk was suspended one game without pay for ripping Love’s shoulder out of its socket and taking him out of play for four to six months. The Cavaliers did strike back later in the game and J.R. Smith was suspended two games without pay when he swung his arm at Celtics forward Jae Crowder’s head.

Later, during the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford performed a similar move to that of Olynyk. That is, he grabbed Cavaliers’ guard Matthew Dellavedova’s upper arm in the same manner, yanking him to the floor. Horford received a Flagrant II and was ejected from the game, though not for that specific play, but for what followed.

Horford claims Dellavedova was going for his legs. In video footage of the game it is clear Horford yanked the guard down and into his own teammate, DeMarre Carroll. Dellavedova stumbled over Carroll and into Horford, who, after the fall, takes an elbow swing (the actual flagrant) at the Cav’s guard and then his 250-pound body lands on his opponents arm.

The “controversy” that surrounds the decision to call a Flagrant II on Horford comes from commentators and others questioning Dellavedova’s play the night before and during the Cleveland-Chicago series.

In game two, Atlanta guard Kyle Korver and Dellavedova both dove for a loose ball. The Cav’s player ended up rolling over Korver’s lower leg resulting in the Hawks’ sharp-shooter out for the series. In the earlier series Dellavedova locked up Gibson with his legs.

Delly leg lock Chicago Sun Times
Dellavedova leg lock on Gibson – Chicago Sun Times

In the play with Korver, both dove for the ball and it is not clear the Cav’s guard landed on Korver’s lower leg on purpose but in the play with Gibson that certainly looks intentional.

However, in the first photo and video above it is very obvious that both Olynyk and Horford were intentionally taking their opponents down, not boxing them out.

It seems that upper arm holding as a method to “box out” opponents has become a common maneuver in the NBA and one that should be of concern as the potential for devastating injury certainly exists, and has already happened. Officials should take note and take appropriate steps to get that form of play eliminated from the game.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Miami Heat 2013 NBA Champions (Repeat)

The defending, and 2-time, NBA Champion Miami Heat and 4-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs provided an NBA Finals for the ages, filled with plenty of back-and-forth. From close games to blow-outs, the 2013 series was fun to watch, more so if the two teams, representing the Eastern and Western Conferences, were not the viewer’s favorites. If one of the two was a fave there was either, in the end, total elation or devastating heart-break.

The road to the 2013 Finals saw Miami post a league-best 66-16 record, during which time they went on an all-time NBA 2nd-best 27-0 run, and then saw them struggle against a very aggressive and much bigger Indiana Pacers squad in their Conference Final match-up taking all 7 games to win, while the Spurs (58-24) were tested in the semi-finals and then swept the Memphis Grizzlies in 4, which allowed them some much needed rest before the final games of the season.

This series saw: eclectic DWade pre-game wardrobes; Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli of old as well as an old Tim and and old Manu; a passive LeBron James and a seriously assertive game-changing LeBron; games where the Big 3 of both teams did not fare well; an NBA record-setting barrage of behind-the-arc pumps by an individual player in the Finals, Danny Green (27), as well as by a team in one game (SA-16) and in a series (SA-61); the 3rd largest beatdown in a Finals game (SA 113 – Heat 77); a lost King James headband; a one-shoed 3-pointer by Mike Miller; double-figure double-doubles; two triple-doubles by LeBron; and numerous wild and crazy blocks, steals, slam dunks, turnovers, and overall fast-paced play, without technical or flagrant fouls.

Way late in the 4th quarter of Game 6 (i.e., 30 seconds left, leading by 5) it seemed as though San Antonio had nailed it, so much so that Miami fans were leaving American Airlines Arena and there were activities occurring behind the scene to crown the Spurs as the 2013 Champions and award the trophy. However, the Heat were having none of that (which would have been a repeat of their painful 6th game, home court loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011) as the NBA all-time leader in 3-pointers, Ray Allen, forced an OT which saw the Heat survive and force Game 7. Perhaps Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said it best following Game 6: “They’re the best two words in sports: Game 7.”

In the end, during the final game 7 match-up, it was the Miami Heat taking advantage of unlikely, yet numerous, 4th quarter Spurs turnovers and an outstanding full-game performance by the eventual NBA Finals MVP LeBron James.  The onslaught of outside shooting by both James and Wade, strongly assisted by 6 for 8 3-point sharp-shooting by, previously-in-a-funk, Shane Battier, proved a potent offensive weapon for the Heat. For pure competitiveness, incredible passion and excellent sportsmanship this series, with games 6 and 7 in particular (either of which really could have gone either way), will go down as one of the best in NBA history and MVP LeBron summed it up neatly, “They pushed us to the limit.”

Quick recap: Game 1 Spurs 92 – Heat 88 with Tony Parker’s bank shot sealing the game with 4.2 seconds left; Game 2 Heat 103 – Spurs 84 with 5 Heat players scoring in double figures; Game 3 Spurs 113 – Heat 77 with the Spurs nailing 16 3-pointers; Game 4 Heat 109 – Spurs 93 with Miami’s Big 3 combining for 85 points; Game 5 Spurs 114 – Heat 104 with the Spurs team shooting 60% (42 of 70) from the floor; Game 6 Heat 103 – Spurs 100 in OT with Chris Bosh providing 2 very key blocks; Game 7 Heat 95 – Spurs 88 as Wade and James go a combined 23 for 34 (68%).

LeBron James 2013 NBA Finals MVP
LeBron James 2013 NBA Finals MVP (Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
All in all, a tremendously enjoyable series for fans (always much better when it goes all 7 games), resulting a disappointing loss for the runner-up San Antonio Spurs, and a great victory for the 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat.

As a note, with their victory, the Heat join only 7 other franchises to garner at least 3 NBA Finals Champion trophies. Far and away the leaders remain the Celtics and Lakers, with 17 and 16 respectively. Following those 2 are the Bulls with 6, Spurs with 4, and, at 3 apiece, the 76ers, Heat, Pistons and Warriors.

Now it’s on to the draft and then free agency as all 29 teams place Miami in their cross-hairs in order to foil a possible Heat 3-Peat.

Until next year.

Over For Now.

Main Street One