Monday 18th June 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

NBA Should Have Suspended Serge Ibaka for Cheap Shot on Blake Griffin

Serge Ibaka received an early (late?) Christmas gift from the NBA.

Following an incident where Ibaka maliciously (yes, maliciously) struck Blake Griffin in the groin, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s power forward was fined $25,000 for his actions and his Flagrant 1 was upgraded to a Flagrant 2.

Whether Ibaka intentionally struck Griffin or not (it sure seems like it was intentional), I’m shocked the NBA didn’t do what it should have, which was suspend him.

This is the same league that suspended Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat for a less-animated crotch-shot that wasn’t even whistled during the game. And it is also the same league that suspended Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks for following Kevin Garnett to his bus. How is it that Ibaka was not handed down a penalty of similar severity? Was it because Ibaka was set to play the Los Angeles Lakers on national television Tuesday night?

Remember, the NBA was furious that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sent four of his biggest names (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Giniobili and Danny Green) back home before a nationally syndicated game against the Heat. Fresh off suspending David Lee of the Golden State Warriors for a nationally televised game, perhaps the Association didn’t want to not put the best possible product on the floor this time around.

I’m not one for perpetuating conspiracy theories, but I wouldn’t exactly put it past the NBA. In fact, in this instance, I’d actually prefer it.


That the NBA didn’t legitimately think this warranted a suspension is too inane for me to wrap my head around. At least if Griffin’s assertion was true, the league has a motive behind such maddening inaction. A genuine backing of this decision is more troublesome than that.

Or how about a heavier fine (at least)? To the Average Joe, $25,000 is a lot of money. To Ibaka, who is earning just over $2.2 million this season, it isn’t even a slap on the wrist. It’s more like a hug.

Of course, this particular fine is in proportion with his salary. That $2.2 million isn’t nearly as much as Wade earns. The NBA should have taken into consideration that Ibaka signed an extension over the summer that begins paying him more than $12 million annually next season. That kind of diminishes the significance behind this fine.

Berating Ibaka isn’t a natural past-time of mine. He’s a fantastic player who has really elevated his game over the last year. But that doesn’t change that fact that 1) what he did was indecent and 2) he should be facing harsher ramifications. Either that, or the NBA was simply too hard on previous offenders, like Wade and Melo.

At this point, it doesn’t matter. Playing the “should’ve, could’ve” cards isn’t going to do a damn thing. If anything good is to come from this then, it’s going to have to be a mutual understanding.

One that ensures each and everyone one of us knows that Ibaka’s actions were wrong, but the NBA’s lack of action was worse.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at in addition to Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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