Thursday, May 7, 2009
League also looking at Celtics-Magic
By Chris Sheridan ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- In NBA shorthand, it is known as the elbow rule: Strike an opposing player above the shoulders with an elbow foul, and it's an automatic ejection.
It was the rule invoked to suspend Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard in Game 6 of the first round -- a rule that the NBA has to debate whether to apply Thursday on another busy day in the office of NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson.
Several physical plays from Wednesday night's playoff games were under review, and
one of the biggest questions was: Where exactly did Kobe Bryant's elbow make contact with Ron Artest?
And the natural follow-up: Should Bryant be punished -- even suspended -- for his actions on the play that led to Artest's ejection in one of several dustups during Game 2 of the Lakers-Rockets series?
Jackson also was reviewing whether Lakers guard Derek Fisher merited an additional penalty -- likely a one-game suspension -- for his flagrant-2 foul against Houston's Luis Scola. He also has to review Magic guard Rafer Alston's slap to the back of Eddie House's head in the second half of Boston's victory over Orlando in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
"The plays are under review," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
The interaction between Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant resulted in a flagrant-1 foul for Bryant.
Jackson attended the Rockets-Lakers game, then took a red-eye flight back to New York and headed to the league's Fifth Avenue office tower to review the plays in question.
On the Bryant-Artest play, the two were battling for rebounding position when Bryant struck Artest with his elbow. Artest immediately began gesturing and arguing that he had been elbowed in the neck, but replays appeared to show Bryant's elbow striking Artest on his upper chest, just above the "R" on Artest's Rockets jersey.
Rule 12, Part A, Section 5-Q of the official NBA rulebook cites: "Elbow fouls which make contact above shoulder level, and punching fouls, although recorded as both personal and team fouls, are unsportsmanlike acts. The player will be ejected immediately."
On the Fisher foul, the replays appeared to show clear premeditation -- which usually is enough for the league to tack on an accompanying one-game suspension. But replays also showed the actual foul against Scola happened when Fisher lowered his shoulder and knocked Scola over, with Fisher only swinging his elbow on the follow-through.
Fisher met with reporters after Lakers practice on Thursday, after he had spoken with NBA security by phone.
"I shared with the league what my thoughts were on the play. I'm confident that they'll be able to take what I said in a genuine and sincere manner. I'll still have to respect their decision, as we all will," Fisher said.
"I've played this game for a long time. I've made it a point not to involve myself in anything that's personal or based solely on retaliation."
Bryant did not speak with the media after practice.
In the Magic-Celtics game, Alston smacked House in the back of the head with an open hand after he said House elbowed him in the stomach after hitting a 3-point shot.
And while Alston's smack clearly did not fall under the rule that calls for an automatic suspension for throwing a punch, Jackson still has to decide whether it was an egregious enough act in and of itself to warrant a suspension for Friday night's Game 3 in Orlando.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Information from ESPN.com's J.A. Adande was used in this report.