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 ESPN.com, 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.

Latest Posts
  1. Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker training to be Starbucks manager

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Vin Baker AP

    He’s been sober four years, which is most important.

  2. Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan Michael Jordan

    Did Michael Jordan hijack the draft process in Charlotte again?

  3. Wisconsin State Assembly passes Bucks arena deal, clearing the way for Gov. Walker to sign

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Scott Walker Scott Walker

    Walker is expected to sign the bill to allocate funds for a new arena.

  4. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov: “We had a really good offseason.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Mikhail Prokhorov Mikhail Prokhorov

    The Nets added solid role players in addition to re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

  5. Report: Clippers center Ekpe Udoh signs one-year deal in Turkey

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Ekpe Udoh Ekpe Udoh

    Udoh played five seasons with the Warriors, Bucks and Clippers.

  6. Matt Barnes on Serge Ibaka: “He’s just dirty.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green

    Barnes hasn’t forgotten Ibaka’s altercations with Blake Griffin.

  7. Karl-Anthony Towns: I want Kevin Garnett to teach me “how to be a champion”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    Garnett came out to Summer League practices to work with Towns.

  8. Mason Plumlee rapping? Yes, Mason Plumlee rapping. (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee with a money gun shooting $100s.

  9. James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:40 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Ennis will get the chance to prove his case in training camp.

  10. Gregg Popovich missed games last November due to heart procedure

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    150728_GreggPopovich Getty Images

    Larry Brown said the condition had Popovich thinking about retirement.

  11. Larry Bird says Stephen Curry, himself in mix for best deep shooter ever

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Larry Bird Larry Bird

    Bird also says Jordan would destroy him one-on-one right now.

  12. Report: Heat will pick up contract of Tyler Johnson, as expected

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT

    Tyler Johnson AP

    James Ennis seems on the bubble with Miami.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (3359)
  2. S. Curry (2980)
  3. K. Durant (2382)
  4. J. Fredette (2312)
  5. B. Haywood (2278)
  1. L. James (2227)
  2. I. Thomas (2194)
  3. T. Hansbrough (2190)
  4. C. Copeland (2073)
  5. A. Davis (1907)