I'm not one to immediately jump to the side of wherever my laundry is. I am a firm believer in objectivity when it comes to playing any sport. A call is a call, no matter who it's on. A foul is a foul, no matter who commits it. A flop is a flop (looking at you, LeBron James & Marcus Smart). Moreover, and what I want to focus on here, a hard and blatant foul is exactly that, no matter who commits it. This is especially important and something that I want everyone reading this to be aware of. To me, if a player on the Raptors, Celtics, Cavaliers, Warriors, Bulls, etc., commits a dumb, blatant, flagrant foul, to me, it's universally bullshit. Clear? Cool.
Friday night in the 2nd quarter of the Celtics/Raptors game, DeMar DeRozan committed a turnover on the Raptors' end of the floor. Isaiah Thomas got the ball and proceeded to drive down the court for a fast break, covered only by DeMarre Carroll. In the process, Carroll committed a hard and flagrant foul, pretty much pushing Thomas to the floor in what was clearly not a clean play. Moreover, the foul didn't appear to be one that was a simple "basketball hard foul," but from at least my point of view while watching it on my couch (arm-chair analytics at its finest here), it looked to have some aggression on the part of Carroll. I have no problem calling a spade a spade (do this with me, Celtics fans). Again, to reiterate, it doesn't matter if the player that committed this flagrant foul is wearing a Raptors jersey or not. There are better and perhaps safer ways to commit fouls to someone that's on a fast break. Call me reserved and/or too ethical here, but I just see no need for it. You can view the play here -
Carroll's foul, however, isn't what I want to bring up. Although I mentioned this on the latest SOT6 podcast (which, by the way, I'm on iTunes! No, for real, I am! Subscribe! Just search for "South of the 6ix" on iTunes... cool), what I want to focus on here is what occurred after Carroll's foul. Now, fully acknowledging that there is really no justification for committing a dumb, blatant, flagrant foul (you're going to see this combination of words often here), there is also absolutely no goddamn reason to make a gun gesture with your hand in response to the individual that committed said flagrant foul on you. This is simply a demonstration of not only one's character, but of one's own arrogance and self-regard. You cannot convince me that gesturing your hand like a gun and pointing at a fellow athlete is appropriate or reasonable, even given a flagrant foul (remember that thing about calling a spade a spade, Celtics fans?). I guess in Thomas' mind, how dare DeMarre Carroll put his hands on Thomas in such an aggressive and blatant way! Obviously the most logical, reasonable, and coherent response in this type of situation is to point dick-finger guns at him, as if to suggest it's worthy of Carroll to be shot (again). Don't worry, Thomas. You can tweet all the eye-ball emojis you wish. It's appropriate, really. We now see you for what kind of person you really are. We see you.
In response to this, the NBA went on to investigate the gesture to see if there were grounds for a fine and/or suspension. So let's pause here for a second to recall a couple of times that the NBA have previously punished its players as a result of making certain gestures. In the 2015 pre-season, Gerald Green got nailed with a $25K fine for making a gun gesture towards... well, towards absolutely nobody in particular. Here -
Maybe it's just me, but I think there's a clear difference in Green's gesture compared to Thomas', as the latter's was toward someone that has been shot before! But ok... I'll give Thomas the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know this about Carroll. He probably didn't.
Further, earlier this season, Dwyane Wade was slapped with the same fine for making a throat-slashing gesture in his debut game with the Bulls against the Celtics. Here's the visual -
Again, this gesture was directed towards absolutely nobody. Yet, in both instances, the NBA found it both necessary and within its right to fine the gestures as they were deemed inappropriate. Hell, it didn't even involve a gun! Fast-forward to the ruling of Thomas' gesture and...
I don't.... I just... what?!? OK, let's think about this for a minute. First off, how can any organization evaluate anyone's intention? This isn't something that can be put on display or really externalized here. Intent comes from within and the only person on the face of the planet that could possibly know what Isaiah Thomas' intent was is Isaiah Thomas.
Secondly, compared to the aforementioned gestures that did get fined, I find it absolutely baffling that Thomas didn't receive, at the very least, the same fine. Consider how many flagrant fouls occur in the NBA in a season. Are we to suggest here that making such a gesture after a dumb, blatant, flagrant foul is acceptable simply because it was a dumb, blatant, flagrant foul? That makes absolutely zero sense.
Again, I take absolutely no accountability away from Carroll. The foul was dumb and it definitely was not a basketball play. Yes, you read correctly: I do not excuse the actions of a player on my favorite basketball team. A novel concept, no? But by no means does this justify and/or excuse any player from making a gun gesture towards the player that committed the dumb, blatant, flagrant foul. If you think it does, then I'm sorry your logic and moral sensibility is beyond skewed.
Michael Grange of SportsNet.ca posted a writeup of the matter and expands on it better than I could. But you have to wonder how the NBA could possibly judge intent. I mean, how does such an investigation work?
NBA: Isaiah, did you intend to make a gun gesture with your fingers when you made the gun gesture with your fingers?
NBA: OK, works for us!
Regardless, as I alluded to earlier in this post, the response to the flagrant foul by Thomas says more about him than the act of the flagrant foul says about Carroll. This isn't some type of "I'M NOT GONNA TAKE THAT LYING DOWN!" response! This goes way beyond that. I'm all for standing up for yourself after a flagrant. Hell, you wouldn't even see this writeup if Thomas simply got up in Carroll's face after the dumb, blatant, flagrant foul. I'm all for standing up for yourself and reminding your opponent that you aren't one to be pushed around. Really, have a ball. But to make a gun gesture in response to a dumb, blatant, flagrant foul during a professional basketball game..... yeah, you're a special kind of idiot if you find that to be justified.
Don't give me this "stop being so sensitive!" bullshit response. This is a professional athlete, here. There's a certain level of accountability that is expected, as well as a certain level of professionalism to carry yourself like a normal human being. FOH with that!
So yeah, Isaiah... keep tweeting out the emoji of eyes. Because we see you for what you are.
I mean, if anything, this just makes me really want to see a Boston/Toronto playoff series even more.
Drama.... am I right?!?