Last night when Hawks guard Dahntay Jones may or may not have “Jalen Rose’d” Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, as the 17-year pro alleges, and he lay on the floor, writhing in pain, everyone at the media table assumed he was faking it.
No one had a great view – the play happened on the baseline corner, closest to the table, but obstructed by courtside fans – but seemingly everyone thought, or said out loud, “There he goes again…”
It wasn’t that members of the media are callous and heartless or that no one was concerned about the wellbeing of one of the NBA’s best players and an all-time basketball great, it’s just that throwing a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way is what Kobe does. And it’s what he had done all night.
After the Lakers training staff revealed that Bryant had a “severely sprained left ankle” most were singing a different tune, but the initial reaction from officials, spectators and media was “There he goes again…”
After getting x-rays and treatment in the visitors’ locker room at Philips Arena, Bryant spoke to media for about three minutes, mostly venting his frustration that he would “have to wait a year to get [his] revenge.”
“I think officials really need to protect shooters,” Bryant told reporters following the game. “You can contest shots, but you can’t walk underneath players, that’s dangerous for the shooter.
“…I’m always conscious of it. When I go to contest shots I’m always very conscious about making sure I don’t walk underneath them. It’s just a very, very dangerous play. Especially if I’m fading away, there’s no rhyme or reason why I should come down anywhere near somebody’s foot.”
That wasn’t enough, so Bryant took to Twitter after the game:
“#dangerousplay that should have been called. Period,” he tweeted.
But inside the locker room, in front of reporters wasn’t where Kobe began to vent his frustration, it was on the court, almost from tip-off.
Kobe complained after almost every shot he took when he didn’t get a call.
(Admittedly, the officiating was horrid and referees Monty McCutchen, Tony Brown and Pat Fraher should be banned for life from ever reffing together again.)
He didn’t just complain after missed shots either. During TV timeouts, he was talking to the officials. A teammate was taking free throws and there he was buzzing in the official’s ear. At the end of the first and third quarters, yep, there he was grumbling away about one call or another.
So when he hoisted up the corner shot that could have tied the game and Jones stepped out and into him, he didn’t get the call.
Bryant kicked his leg out, a move that officials have been cracking down on this year, Jones stepped into him attempting to disrupt the shot, and Bryant fell awkwardly on his ankle. It’s a call that easily could have gone either way, but in this case it was a no call.
Kobe didn’t like it, but that’s life. Maybe someday he’ll learn that the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the oil.