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Luhm: NBA botched call on Bryant-Jones incident

Published March 16, 2013 3:44 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A disclaimer: I have worn glasses since third grade which, I assure you, was a while ago.

I don't always see things clearly.

The "5s" on the crawling scoreboard at the bottom of the TV screen can look like "6s." The "6s" often look like "8s." The "8s" can look like "0s."

See what I'm saying?

My optic imperfection is why, late this week, I watched a replay of Kobe Bryant's last-second shot over Dahntay Jones about 25 times.

I wanted to make sure I was seeing what I think I saw, which was nothing extraordinary.

By now, you know what happened Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Bryant put the finishing touches on an 11-for-33 shooting night by launching a 15-foot jumper that would have tied the game with 3.9 seconds. He missed but suffered a sprained ankle when he landed on Jones' foot.

Fueled by Kobe's postgame insistence he'd been the victim of a "dirty" and "dangerous" play, the reaction was immediate. Jones was vilified — unjustly, I believe — by Laker Nation and others.

I'm not blaming Bryant, who was upset about missing the shot, his team losing an important game and his injury.

I am blaming the NBA, which immediately fed the beast with a declaration that the officials should have called a foul on Jones. The league retroactively handed out a flagrant foul.

Hey, I've seen flagrant fouls.

That wasn't a flagrant foul.

Jones simply followed Bryant to the baseline, put up his hands and leaned in to pressure the shot. The only significant contact came when Bryant kicked out his leg and hit Jones below the belt, very close to Ground Zero.

Yes, Bryant landed on Jones' foot, just like Deron Williams landed on Derrick Rose's foot during an exhibition game in 2010.

Williams was injured, taken off the floor in a wheelchair and initially feared he'd broken his ankle. But he didn't complain about Rose's effort, which, in fact, resulted in more contact than Bryant-Jones.

It was a normal play. It was an unfortunate play. It wasn't a dirty play.

The problem this week was the NBA's reaction. It smacked of reacting only because one of its superstars, who plays for one of its foundation franchises, was unhappy with a journeyman player doing his job.

Consider what would happen if the situation was reversed — if Dahntay Jones drives, misses a jumper and sprains his ankle after landing on Kobe Bryant's foot.

Thanks for coming.

At Friday's practice, I asked a few Jazz players what they thought. Nobody wanted to say much, for obvious reasons.

Veteran Marvin Williams sounded unconvinced, however, that there was anything unusual about the play.

"Tough," Williams said. "Dahntay is trying to be aggressive defensively and get up on Kobe. But any time you shoot a jump shot and a guy gets under you, it's scary. Unfortunately, Kobe was injured. Just one of those tough plays."

And the NBA made it worse.

At least in my eyes.