It’s not only one of the oldest tricks in the book, it’s also one of the direst.
As a defender, when your opponent is midair attempting a shot, you slide underneath them just enough so that when they land their legs will come down on top of yours, usually resulting in some type of ankle injury.
It’s the same type of play that ESPN analyst Jalen Rose admitted to in 2013 when he said he intentionally hurt Kobe Bryant during the 2000 NBA Finals by placing his foot underneath Kobe so he would land on top of him following a jumper. It’s also the same type of dirty play that made former San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen one of the most hated players in the league.
Well, that’s exactly what Kelly Olynyk was attempting to do last night and we’re calling him out for it.
With 1:27 left in regulation, Dirk Nowitzki was attempting a three-point shot when Olynyk lunged forward. As Nowitzki came down, he landed directly on top of Olynyk causing the 37 year-old German to stumble to the floor. Fortunately, Nowitzki not only made the shot and the subsequent free throw, he wasn’t injured on the play.
Let’s be real here. This is Basketball 101. When you’re defending an opponent while their attempting a shot, you jump straight up and not straight into your opponent. Heck, that’s Physics 101.
Was on purpose? Did Olynyk mean to lunge into Dirk and cause a foul? Was he attempting to injure his ankles?
If you take a look at the play, it’s understandable that Olynyk had some ground to make up when he was attempting to challenge Dirk’s shot. But, based on the way he leaped forward, it certainly looks like he had no intention of stopping the shot and almost seemed to be taking aim at Dirk’s body and where he was about to land.
But, hey, that’s just one subjective opinion.
You may remember name Olynyk. During the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs, he got “tangled” up with Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love while attempting to grab a rebound. Olynyk yanked Love’s arm and the play resulted in a dislocated shoulder causing him to miss the rest of the playoffs, significantly deterring the Cavs chances to compete for an NBA Championship.
Was it intentional or malicious? Only Olynyk knows the true answer to that. But just as in the case with Dirk, it definitely seemed bush league.