Early in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s Heat-Spurs game, Miami center Hassan Whiteside found himself tangled up beneath the basket with Spurs big man Boban Marjanovic. Following a made free-throw, Whiteside seemed to take exception to Marjanovic’s aggressiveness behind his back, and spun around with an elbow that connected with Marjanovic’s head.
Officials gave Whiteside a Grade 2 flagrant foul for the play, earning him an automatic ejection; It was the tempestuous Whiteside’s first ejection the year after getting tossed twice last season. And while it was certainly not a basketball play, it also wasn’t the most devastating of blows you’ll ever see on an NBA court. So, did Whiteside’s elbow warrant an ejection, or did the officiating crew come down too hard on him?
On the TNT broadcast, Chris Webber seemed to think it was absolutely warranted, saying the elbow was the result of Whiteside’s frustration throughout the game of being outplayed by the Spurs’ frontcourt.
“That’s just a dirty play,” said Webber.
After the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seemed to agree. Not only was he disappointed that his team had to finish the game without its starting center — an eventual 119-101 loss — he was certainly not okay with Whiteside losing his composure.
“That’s something that we’ll deal with, with Hassan,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t condone that kind of play. We’ve been through this with him before. But it’s a disappointing play. That’s not a basketball play.”
Whether it deserved an ejection is still up for debate. Elbows fly in the paint all the time, and not all of them result in ejections. Then again, the only opinions that matter are those of the referees, and we know how they feel.
At the end of the day, the Heat had to play the majority of the fourth quarter without their starting center, and for them to have had any chance of beating the Spurs, that can’t happen.
(Via Miami Herald)