Kobe Bryant is now an old curmudgeon after 17 years in the NBA at age 34, and the events that unfolded during a 96-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks and caused him to sustain a severe ankle injury didn’t stop him from speaking his mind to reporters after the game.
“You can’t just go underneath shooters, man,” he told reporters via the Time Warner Cable SportsNet broadcast on Wednesday. “That’s a dangerous play.”
Bryant was visibly upset and none-too-pleased with how the officials handled the call of the play, failing to blow the whistle when Atlanta Hawks guard Dahntay Jones undercut him and caused Bryant to fall to the ground writhing in pain. His anger spilled over onto Twitter as well, as he decided that his message may not have been clear enough in the post-game interview:
#dangerousplay that should have been called. Period.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 14, 2013
He was mad and obviously emotional, but he’s right. There was no reason for the defender in that situation to have to go underneath him to play solid defense, especially on a fadeaway. A shooter is allowed verticality by rule, which means that a foul occurs whenever a he is not able to come down from a shot while jumping straight up and down without contact. Jones put his foot underneath Bryant and ended up causing the injury, whether he meant to or not.
So did Jones do it intentionally?
“I don’t ever want to put that on somebody,” Bryant told Time Warner Cable SportsNet. “I really don’t. I just think players need to be made conscious of it, and I think officials need to protect shooters, period.”
It’s not difficult to understand why he’s so upset.
The Lakers have fought back from the depths of despair and have fought tooth and nail to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture. They desperately need road wins as they have a tough stretch of road games and will need everyone’s best — especially his — to get through it. Upset doesn’t begin to describe what he’s probably feeling, and he got in a parting shot to illustrate such:
“I can’t get my mind past the fact that I gotta wait a year to get revenge,” he added.
Here’s the full post-game interview. Notice the body language. He is seething mad: