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Thibodeau defends Asik’s play

Jan 17, 2011, 6:25 PM EDT

Omer Asik

After Chris Bosh got injured in a collision with Chicago Bulls forward Omer Asik during Saturday’s game, he was critical of Asik after the game for diving after a loose ball that was close to Bosh’s legs. Asik didn’t come all that close to the ball, but he did end up making contact with Bosh’s leg and causing the Heat forward to sprain his ankle. After the game, Bosh was of the opinion that Asik should have stayed on his feet instead of laying out for the ball:

“C’mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen,” Bosh said. “You’ve got to watch people’s legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job.

“We all want to be healthy and that is very important,” Bosh said. “If it is by somebody’s leg, don’t dive for the ball, it’s too close.”

Like Bosh’s “coach wants to us to work, we want to chill” quote from earlier this season, Bosh’s comments are both completely understandable and demonstrate a remarkable ignorance of what sports fans want to hear from professional athletes. Bosh is a skinny guy, his ankles and knees are the most vulnerable part of his body, his teammates are counting on him, and it only takes one awkward collision to end his season or keep him from ever being the same player again. Given all that, it’s understandable for Bosh to be a little mad at the guy who collided into him. But to saying that you are, in essence, of the opinion that NBA players should hustle less is never, ever going to go over well with the fans.

Even though most fans and media members were already on Asik’s side in this little “debate,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau made it clear that he doesn’t think Asik did anything wrong on Saturday during a pre-game media session on Monday. ESPN Chicago’s Nick Fridell has the report:

“I didn’t see it that way,” Thibodeau said of Bosh’s comments. “I saw it as a great hustle play. Omer’s not that type of guy. He’s not going to ever try to take somebody out. He plays hard, he plays clean. He wants to win. Sometimes people say things [in the] heat of the moment after a game so … And Chris is a tough player. Actually, he hit the floor in the first half in a similar play with Derrick, so I didn’t see it that way.”

Good of Thibodeau to stick up for his rookie center, and to give Bosh something resembling the benefit of the doubt regarding his comments. Once Bosh has had some time to heal his ankle and think about his comments, I’m sure there won’t be any lingering bad blood between Bosh and Asik over the collision.

  1. d57fan - Jan 17, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    What an insipid apologist….how does Bosh continue to get the “benefit of the doubt” when he has spent years saying stupid things like this that show his softness and arrogance….just because he spent those years in Toronto and no one noticed, doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. He’s a a**hole….

  2. musilly - Jan 17, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Notes.

    Bosh’s comments are very persuasive. Thibobeau subtly twisted them by inserting the word “try;” Bosh didn’t say that Asik tried to hurt him, only that Asik made a play that increases the likelihood of knee injury. He suggests that in those sorts of situation, when there’s an *especially* high chance of hurting somebody, you should just concede the play. I’ve got no problem with that and think he’s being wise and honest there.

    Your response is something like “yeah, I’m sympathetic with Bosh but he should know better than to say that, given the commitments of most fans.” OK. Fans that want players to give everything on every play, even those plays that significantly increase the chance of another player getting hurt…those are not fans that I’d care to hang out with. They’re dumb. These players aren’t just playing for our entertainment…they have lives outside of basketball and they want those lives to be healthy, etc.

    And as for your point about Bosh being ignorant about fans’ sympathies…
    (1) You’re being awfully presumptuous about how “fans” feel. How do you know what “fans” feel? (2) Let’s celebrate the fact that Bosh is unusually honest for an athlete. I’d love to see more of that myself. As far as what “fans” think about that, I’ve no idea.

  3. goforthanddie - Jan 17, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Poor guy just realizing the rest of the league is gonna bring it every night? Best to shut it before you start sounding like LePunk.

  4. zackd2 - Jan 17, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Can’t wait for Pat Riley to take over.

    Bosh: “OMG I’m soooooooooooooooo tired”

  5. metalhead65 - Jan 18, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    ok I am going to go out on a limb here and say most guys who aren’t part of a trio who feel the world revolves them play the game at full speed and don’t stop to think about whether they can make the play or not. in this guys case being a rookie and trying to impress coaches and teammates saw loose ball and went for it like has always done and was not thinking about hurting anybody only of getting the ball!I don’t know maybe that thought will come to him as he plays longer in the league but to slam somebody who was only doing his job is bush league. got a problem then tell him after the game or have one of his teammates say something to him but don’t call the guy out in the press for a hustle play you diva!

  6. tubal22 - Jan 18, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    @musilly: What are you Bosh’s agent? If he was on Kobe’s team Kobe would have slapped him around for saying that. If he was on Jordan’s team, he’d never get the ball again. If he was playing back in the days of Malone/Oakley/Barkley he would have gotten a nice elbow to the face so he’ll learn what it takes to “provide for your family”.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Bosh might actually be stupider than LeBron.

    The Heat need to hire some fresh PR folks pronto to start spinning all the stupid things these two say.

    Wade probably just shakes his head and slinks away in embarassment anytime these guys get interviewed.

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