As I was limited to the ESPN broadcast of last night’s Celtics/Suns game, I was not privy to Bill Walton’s analysis on the first truly dirty play of the game: Mickael Pietrus’ elbow/punch to the throat of Kevin Garnett. Fortunately, RedsArmy was all over the video and analysis:
Make no mistake, what Pietrus did on this play was dirty. In his article, RedsArmy argues that the play was actually dirtier than what Kevin Garnett did to Channing Frye because Pietrus was head-hunting.
“Look, I’m not going to argue that what KG did was acceptable by any measure. But what Pietrus did was by far worse, considering he went right for his head. Also, I have to agree with what Donny Marshall said in the Celtics’ post-game show: Frye must have cuevos of steel to get up THAT quickly after getting hit there.”
I’ll ignore the blatant cheap-shot to Frye’s manhood in the quote – it must be a Celtics thing. But I have to say that I disagree. I don’t think either play was any dirtier than the other. True, Pietrus’ use of his elbow and fist to KG’s throat is egregious. In my estimation, it’s clearly a flagrant foul at the very least, if not also worthy of ejection. But I don’t know that Pietrus’ original intention was to go after Garnett’s throat. From the video, it looks like Pietrus originally tried to shove his way through the screen with unnecessary force (clearly a foul, as was called), and he hit Garnett a little too high. The dirty part comes into play in that Pietrus followed through and, purposefully, hit KG in the throat. As Walton says in the video, as professionals, these players have a responsibility to keep their elbows below the chest, and Pietrus acted irresponsibly. I’m hard-pressed to believe, given the video however, that his act was pre-meditated.
And this is where Kevin Garnett is most at fault in his act. I’m to believe that Garnett was…what, exactly? Trying to hit Frye in the stomach or on the knee in order to hinder his 3-point shot? That’s absolutely ridiculous. Garnett knew exactly what he was doing and exactly where he was aiming. In terms of long-term damage, I’m not going to argue that a slap to the crotch is a bigger threat than an elbow and fist to the throat. However, as a man, I’d react with just as much venom in either situation.
Is one of these acts worse than the other? I don’t think so – they’re both just filthy. I just have one question – if the Celtics and Suns got this chippy, what’s Sunday’s Boston-Los Angeles game going to look like?