This morning I wrote about the NBA possibly rescinding Dwight Howard’s sixth technical foul of the playoffs. Guess what? That’s exactly what they did. Howard received the penalty after “taunting” Anderson Varejao in the overtime period after scoring a tough, tough basket — one that saw Varejao hanging all over the Orlando center. The ruling means Howard still has two more to play with before he faces a mandatory suspension. No word on whether or not the NBA rescinded the technical he received for his elbow to Samuel Dalembert’s noggin.
One question before this post ends: Did Varejao’s actions warrant a flagrant foul?
There’s one thing I’ve learned watching this year’s NBA Playoffs: the league is quick to rescind a technical foul if… well, I’ll let you conspiracy buffs work out those details. Off the top of my head, there are two players in the Western Conference Finals who’ve had black marks removed from their ledger — Kenyon Martin and Kobe Bryant. With that in mind, should Dwight Howard have his sixth technical foul taken away or should it stay on his record? As you can see in the lead video, after scoring a tough bucket with Anderson Varejao hanging on him, Howard gets a little emotional and reminds Varejao of what just happened, leading to a technical for taunting.
Was this an overreaction by the officials or did Howard’s outburst warrant that type of punishment? Considering the NBA is a league of stars, it wouldn’t be surprising if Howard’s sixth — a suspension follows a seventh technical — was removed. However, if the league is really in on a “We want Kobe and LeBron in the Finals,” conspiracy, it could very well stay.
Surprisingly, my father — who is a lot more learned about the sport than Bill Simmons’ dad — has actually entertained the Kobe/LeBron theory, so I know where he’s leaning. I will say this, it’s a little hypocritical for a league that has used this Michael Jordan highlight in previous marketing schemes to keep Howard’s black mark on the ledger.
Then again, if Howard doesn’t mug at Varejao, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
Six players versus five. I’m sure many basketball fans have often wondered how a team would do on offense if they were allowed an extra player. In the case of Portland’s win over Boston, the result is an easy dunk for the team that “broke the huddle with too many men on the field.” Fortunately for the Blazers, the penalty didn’t cost them too much: a one-shot technical foul for the Celtics. Meanwhile, the Blazers were allowed to keep the two points; meaning they traded two points for one.
That’s not a bad strategy for a young team to use when they are trying to beat the defending world champions, something the Blazers did. By five points. Other teams that should consider the six-versus-five advantage: The Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington (even if Agent Zero every comes back), Minnesota, Sacramento, Charlotte and Memphis.
Hell, give these teams an extra draft pick so they can specifically address their sixth man needs.
Is this a kinder, gentler Ron Artest we are witnessing? Doubtful … but there is something to be said about last night’s technical foul business against the Mavericks. What we have is Yao getting tangled up with Josh Howard and Ron-Ron running in to actually pull Yao away — after making contact with Howard.
Let’s go to the video:
Where do you stand? Did Artest deserve the technical or was this a case of guilty until proven innocent? I’m thinking no, but does the fact his reputation does proceed him — directly or otherwise. Maybe the refs were simply reacting to the way he ran up to Howard and Kidd, or maybe Reggie’s right: perhaps some latent memories about Ron remain.
Nevertheless, the Rockets beat the Mavs last night and Artest’s 29 point, 7 rebound effort contributed nicely. Is this the start of something beautiful for Ron, or, like a friend texted me last night, is Ron one elbow away from black-out style violence?