Why The NBA’s Serge Ibaka Punishment Was Dumb, Or: How Much Would You Pay To Punch Blake Griffin In The Groin?

Would you pay $25,000 to say, “Here Blake, jump over this!” … and then proceed to punch Blake Griffin in the scrotum? Consider this a public service announcement, because if it’s something you were considering doing, that appears to be the going rate: Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for shaft-punching the L.A. Clippers star during Sunday’s game. The incident occurred with 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 108-104 win over the Clippers at Staples Center.

NBA executive vice president for basketball operations Stu Jackson announced the fine Tuesday. The league also upgraded the flagrant foul 1 Ibaka was given for the jab to Griffin’s Johnson as the two battled for position in the paint to a Flagrant Foul 2, meaning Ibaka should have been ejected from the game.

I really have a hard time understanding the punishment here. I get the monetary fine, but upgrading the foul part after the fact seems kind of silly. While there are potential consequences going forward to Ibaka and the Thunder in upgrading the flagrant foul, that doesn’t help the Clippers at all. Also, it doesn’t help Griffin deal with the ice cream headache in his stomach. If they aren’t going to go back and play the game from the point where the foul occurred, without Ibaka and after Griffin has had the opportunity to retrieve his testicles from his large intestine, what’s the point of announcing anything more than the fine?

The game is over and the Clippers lost. What difference does changing the foul make now? This isn’t much different than, after the fact, telling astronauts returning to earth they have one shot at getting the trajectory correct for successful reentry with the consequences being to burn up in the earth’s atmosphere or wander aimlessly in space for eternity. “Oops, did I say set it to 28 degrees pitch? I meant 88 degrees, sorry.”

Getty photo, by Stephen Dunn