Skip to content

Serge Ibaka wasn’t suspended for groin hit on Blake Griffin because the league viewed it as ‘unintentional’

Mar 9, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT

ibaka griffin

When Serge Ibaka caught Blake Griffin with a violent shot to the groin near the end of the Thunder’s win over the Clippers last Sunday, most watching at the time expected the play to result in an ejection.

After review, the refs called a flagrant foul, but allowed Ibaka to remain in the game.

In the days that followed, many expected a suspension to be handed down from the league office, but Ibaka was merely fined $25,000 for his actions.

It can be frustrating at times to understand the league’s position on plays like these, and even the game’s players — most notably, LeBron James and Blake Griffin in this case — can find themselves in disagreement with the league over its decisions.

The NBA rarely comments publicly or explains its thinking, but thanks to Marc Stein of, we have a little insight into what went into this one.

Some checking with the league office this week revealed that Stu Jackson & Co. deemed Ibaka’s contact with Griffin’s, uh, groin area to be unintentional. The league view, I’m told, is that Ibaka was slapping at an arm that Griffin unexpectedly pulled away, leading to the painful connection and thus distinguishing the play from the “groin altercations” that earned Wade and DeMarcus Cousins suspensions earlier this season.

Most agreed that Ibaka wasn’t aiming to hit Griffin below the belt, even as the play unfolded in real time. Intent shouldn’t matter, however, as players need to be held responsible for their actions.

Ibaka should have been ejected at the time, or suspended a game in the days that followed. Both penalties would have been excessive, but one or the other would have been just right.

  1. libertarianvoter - Mar 9, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    Apparently, the NBA employs both half-blind prima-donna referees and telepathic foul-reviewers. How else would one explain how they were able to assign intent to Wade but not to Ibaka?

  2. libertarianvoter - Mar 9, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Ibaka: I was swinging at your arm. Griffin: I’m very flattered, but that’s not my arm.

    • abchome - Mar 10, 2013 at 3:24 AM

      Griffin (thought): Next time I’ll hit your fraking face with my “arm”

    • zerole00 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Was it really a swing or a reach around gone horribly wrong?

  3. cosanostra71 - Mar 9, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Whoever viewed that as unintentional should be on Shaqtin a Fool!

  4. sdemp - Mar 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    David Stern is a joke.

  5. jimtron11 - Mar 9, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Serge Ibaka was given the benefit of the doubt because of his sterling personal reputation and the innocuous nature of the contact. Past history and personal character are factors during sentencing periods of a criminal cases, so what’s so unreasonable about taking character into account when determining punishments handed down from the NBA League Office unto its players? Ibaka was looking away when the contact occurred, it was obvious that he wasn’t aiming for Griffin’s ‘nads.’ Players catch elbows all the time in basketball, typically when opposing players are competing for a rebound. Sometimes these flying ‘bows lead to severe injuries including black eyes, stitches, even concussion and yet; in almost all cases, only a personal foul is assessed (assuming it was deemed unintentional). And even though Griffin was surely in a great deal of agony for a few moments, he did not sustain any long-term (or even short-term) damage to his body. I don’t always agree with the NBA’s decisions on whether or not to suspend players, but I believe the league was in the right in not suspending Ibaka.

  6. gmsingh - Mar 9, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    It’s clear to me that Ibaka hates Kias.

  7. chawbacon14 - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    OK Helin, let me explain this to you , since you seem to have so much trouble admitting you are wrong, even after the League says you were wrong.

    Its like this, once Griffin broke the rules by grabbing and holding Ibaka’s jersey ( and it was not just a ” tug ” of the jersey, he was about to take Ibaka’s jersey off of him ) , then Griffin no longer has protection under the rules.

    Here’s how the law works in the real world, if a person is committing a crime and is breaking the law, then they no longer have protection from the law.

    Example, If a person breaks into someone’s house, and is then confronted by the homeowner who has a gun, then the law breaker no longer has the protection of the law. The law against murder, no longer is applicable.

    Griffin instigated this entire incident by breaking the rules and attempting to gain an unfair advantage by holding Ibaka’s jersey. From that point on, whatever happens to him , is all on Griffin.

    I was actually very disappointed that Ibaka was fined. The F1 foul called during the game was ample. The NBA just threw the fine in , to sate a few of you diehards who have trouble thinking this through.

    It was unintentional and inadvertent and instigated by Griffin. And Blake needs to shutup and quit whining like a little boy. Time for him to grow up. He’s no longer in Edmond, OK.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:02 AM

      Wow, your knowledge of the law of a gun owner in a house is very off. At least here in California, you cannot kill an intruder outright if he (she) is not armed and threatening. Meaning if you confront an unarmed thief who puts his arms up and you shoot him, murder laws still apply.

      As for Griffin/Ibaka, let’s just agree to disagree. I think Ibaka swung and is responsible for the punch.

  8. andrewjohnwang - Mar 9, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    It’s definitely not appreciated in sports!

  9. paleihe - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    “Most agreed that Ibaka wasn’t aiming to hit Griffin below the belt…”

    I’m not sure who “most” are, but I think he wasn’t aiming for anything in particular. He was just swinging. That should be grounds for suspension. Swinging recklessly should be discouraged by the league.

  10. jimeejohnson - Mar 10, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Ibaka is a great defender, but that was a chump move by a punk.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2537)
  2. K. Irving (1990)
  3. L. James (1668)
  4. A. Davis (1615)
  5. K. Bryant (1597)