DANGEROUS PLAYS IN BASKETBALL. This article by Eric Freeman on Yahoo Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie blog is just about the first discussion I’ve seen or heard of the possible danger for a basketball player when he is fouled while in the air. The article discusses whether it was appropriate for the referees to call a flagrant foul on Manu Ginobili after he fouled Tony Allen while he was in the air and knocked him to the ground. Freeman suggests that the NBA is taking knocking players in the air to the ground more seriously. I had not been aware that it was, but I applaud the league if it is doing so. Freeman’s statement of why the league should take the problem seriously deserves quoting: “When a player gets airborne, he puts himself at the mercy of his opponents and the laws of physics….It’s the same line of thinking that causes the rest of society to consider pushing someone near a cliff substantively different from pushing that same person in the middle of an open field.”
The issues are similar to those for dangerous plays in hockey (which I commented on here). Freeman says: “…ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy argued in the immediate aftermath of the play, Ginobili didn’t exactly strike Allen with the intent to injure.” However, as I argued for hockey, intent should not be required. It’s too hard to assert or prove. On the other hand, Allen apparently grasped his head in pain, even though his head did not hit the ground. The NBA has announced that it is cracking down on flopping, but I haven’t noticed.