NBA Upgrades Bynum's Flagrant Foul Against WallaceLate in the fourth quarter of Charlotte's 117-110 double overtime win versus the Lakers, Andrew Bynum was called for a Flagrant 1 foul after delivering a sharp elbow to Gerald Wallace's chest. That blow collapsed Wallace's left lung and fractured one of his ribs and upon further review the NBA upgraded the foul from a Flagrant 1 to a Flagrant 2, meaning that in their judgment Bynum should have been ejected (a Flagrant 2 carries an automatic ejection). The NBA elected not to suspend Bynum but he has accumulated three flagrant foul points this season (two for this incident plus one from an earlier Flagrant 1 call) and any player who gets five flagrant foul points in one season is automatically suspended for a game.
I don't think that Bynum is a dirty player but what he did to Wallace is a dirty play. It is not a natural basketball act to violently swing one's elbow into the chest of another player; it is quite dangerous to do so and not at all surprising that this resulted in a fairly serious injury. As TNT's Gary Payton said, Bynum should have raised his arms up to try to block Wallace's shot and then if Bynum had swung down and fouled Wallace on the arms there would be no problem.
Whether or not Bynum intended to injure Wallace is not the issue; Charlotte Coach Larry Brown said that Bynum came to their team bus to apologize and find out how Wallace was but lack of intent/feelings of remorse do not change the nature of one's actions. If your actions cause a car accident that injures others it does not matter if you did not intend to cause those injuries; you are still responsible for them.
By the same token, even if Wallace had emerged unscathed that would not change the fact that Bynum's play was dirty, because it simply is not acceptable to throw high elbows/forearm shivers into the chests of defenseless, airborne players. The NBA was right to upgrade the foul. The decision not to suspend Bynum obviously reflects the NBA's belief that this was in fact an accidental play by someone who does not have the reputation for being dirty and that is also the correct decision. Bynum deserves the benefit of the doubt unless or until he starts piling up a number of such plays.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:17 AM