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. 67RIEFNS No. 7: Warriors’ starting lineup

    Oct 2, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut dominated last season and return for more

  2. Does Serge Ibaka know who Mitch McGary is?

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day 2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day

    Thunder forward says he doesn’t (unless he’s joking like Kevin Martin)

  3. D-League considers rule change: Players attempt one free throw on all trips to line

    Oct 1, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard Dwight Howard

    Get fouled on a missed 2-pointer – one free throw worth two points
    Get fouled on a missed 3-pointer – one free throw worth three points

  4. Injury updates: Lakers Ryan Kelly, Jazz’s Carrick Felix both out for a while

    Oct 1, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Media Day Getty Images

    Two young players trying to prove to new coaches they deserved minutes. This is a real setback for both.

  5. LeBron co-producing children’s show about beginnings of himself, other top athletes

    Oct 1, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    The show is on Disney XD. I suppose there are worse things your child could watch.

  6. Phil Jackson compared J.R. Smith to Dennis Rodman. Smith likes that.

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    J.R. Smith AP

    Thing is, Rodman fit the triangle and what Jackson wants to do with a team. Smith…. not so much.

  7. Greg Monroe calls offseason rumors surrounding him ‘lies’

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT

    Greg Monroe Greg Monroe

    Monroe had a busy offseason in terms of appearances in the NBA’s news cycle.

  8. Rajon Rondo doesn’t rule out opening night return for Celtics

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:41 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Broken hand is supposed to sideline Rondo for 6-8 weeks.

  9. K.J. McDaniels takes unique approach to rookie contract with Sixers

    Oct 1, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    Second round pick foregoing additional guaranteed dollars in order to bet on himself.

  10. Klay Thompson refutes report he was ‘pissed’ about being included in trade talks for Kevin Love

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Klay Thompson Klay Thompson

    Reminder not to believe everything you read, especially if it’s attributed to ‘a source.’

  11. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Charlotte Hornets

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets Media Day Charlotte Hornets Media Day

    The new-look Hornets, with Lance Stephenson in tow, are hoping to build on a playoff run and a promising young core.

  12. Kobe Bryant plans to play in all 8 preseason games for Lakers

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kobe wants to shake the rust off before the games count for real later this month.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3691)
  2. K. Bryant (3423)
  3. R. Rondo (3266)
  4. R. Allen (2393)
  5. D. Wade (2323)
  1. D. Williams (2272)
  2. N. Noel (2014)
  3. K. Leonard (1966)
  4. M. Smart (1923)
  5. D. Rose (1892)