Dirty Is As Dirty Does, NBA-Style Too

Team USA was shocked – shocked! – when Argentina point guard Facundo Campazzo turned Carmelo Anthony’s 3-point jump shot into a close-out cheap shot, hitting the New York Knicks’ shooter in the groin in the third quarter of the U.S. team’s 126-97 victory Monday at the 2012 London Olympics.


Frankly, the most shocking thing about the play and the furor it ignited in the moment and afterward was that Campazzo didn’t explain to reporters that he learned his technique by watching NBA global telecasts. Where better to learn some of the game’s dirtier tricks than from the those who not only have mastered them but elevated them to high art and, in some cases, deployed them all the way to Springfield, Mass.?

While Anthony briefly writhed on the floor, center Tyson Chandler, coach Mike Krzyzewski and others barked and glared at Campazzo and the Argentina team, including Suns forward Luis Scola. All of these guys, though, know their way around such cheap-shot maneuvers because those are prevalent, rampant even, in the league in which they play stateside. (Coach K? He had a guy who once stepped on a fallen player’s chest.)

Some of the greatest players in NBA history have been on the dark side of sainthood if an elbow here, a shove there or a slap where it really hurts could tilt defeat into triumph. Michael Jordan never met a rule he didn’t try to bend. Karl Malone and John Stockton were known to apply impact to opponents’ various nether regions, especially when cutting through the lane. And Tim Duncan and David Robinson were more than happy to win rings while teammate Bruce Bowen stepped repeatedly underneath descending shooters’ feet and ankles.

For every Reggie Evans, Metta World Peace or Raja Bell delivering a blow in today’s game — role players staying employed and effective by whatever means necessary, up to and including World Peace’s alarming elbow to OKC guard James Harden’s head — the NBA has a Kevin Garnett, a Dwight Howard or a Chris Paul, elite players who aren’t above such tactics. Or at least a strategically aimed rabbit punch away out of the refs’ sight. It was Paul, in fact, who was cited by Campazzo for triggering the ‘Melo play; the 21-year-old accused Paul of getting him with a similar low blow in the first half. And Paul didn’t exactly deny it when he blinked and said: “Which time? We got tangled up 1,000 times.”

During that same postgame media session, as the absentee landlord of this Hang Time hideout reported, Paul seemed to savor the feistiness.

“Anyone who is involved in athletics knows that there are these ups and downs over the course of a game,” Paul said. “I love it, I love it.  When it got a little chippy here and there it gets you excited and it really lets you know you are on the Olympic stage playing for a gold medal … I give Argentina a lot of credit. They pushed us. They made us compete. And that’s what you want to do.”

There is, of course, another explanation. Campazzo might just be a Jeremy Lin fan who was letting Anthony know what he thought of the Knicks’ handling of their power struggle.


  1. Hernan says:

    What about the time they hit him(campazzo)???? that was before he hit carmelo…and campazzo wasnt the only one nba players hit in a dirty way…come on, lets be realistic, when the game was tied the nba players were pisted off, and did unnessesary fouls…YES IM ARGENTINIAN, but at least im objective

  2. Pedro says:

    Honestly, I prefer guys that play physical and (sometimes) a little dirty than floppers like Ginobili.

  3. LAKERS 4EVA!! says:

    All I can say is at least the NBA players make an attempt to hide their dirty plays! The cheap shot on Melo was so blatent, the ref’s must have been smoking some seriously good stuff not to see it! If that happened in an NBA game, it would be a Flagrant 2 ejection straight away, followed by a stiff fine and suspension from the league.

  4. erwin says:

    Melo-haters..perhaps you need to read something for you to shut up! http://www.nba.com/nuggets/news/melo_winners_11_27_2010.html?fb_action_ids=4353105667754&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582 then compare it to your Linsanity.. shut up ok,just wait for the season begin!

  5. bu says:

    No blood no foul. At the top, the court is war zone. There’re many fouls taking place uncalled. These guys don’t get to where they are by playing “gentlemen” ball. At high competition, is whatever it takes to win. No one is going to want to regret what I should have done in getting a gold medal or world champ.

    It comes down to the timing & art of giving a cheap shot. Top pros are the greatest actors & delivering cheap shots at the right time right moment most of the time. The really bad one I’d say is very dirty is the physical injury to players such as what Bowen & some others do by stepping into someone’s landing spot. You can seriously injure a player.

  6. Ggg says:

    Compazzo =idiot. Smple as that…

  7. TTKIN says:

    Good points, but u dont see anyone in the NBA doing groin shots that blatantly. And Nic Batum just did the same thing the other day. Ya elbows get thrown, tempers go off, it’s a physical sport. But u dont ever see a guy come up with his fist and throw it into a dude’s nuts.

    And the example provided is “especially when cutting through the lane”…ok anyone who knows how to drive the lane knows that ur going way to fast and trying to avoid way too many people to intentionally drive ur fist into his groin.

    The NBA may make dirty moves, everyone does at some point, but especially in the Olympics where it’s supposed to be respectful, u never see guys throwing fists at nuts. And thanks to Argentina and France, we’ve now seen it twice in 2 days.

  8. wwwww says:

    its rgt

  9. Notjudging says:

    I really think this is much ado about nothing. “Dirty” play has been and always will be a part of ANY sport where one player can get within reach of another. It happens on every level of play but certainly the pros know how to do it best. If you’re skeptical, just go to an unfamiliar venue and get into a pick-up game of basketball, soccer, flag-football… Anyone who enters into a competitive game and expects not to be poked, pushed, kicked, tripped or trash-talked is naive.

    I’ve been playing basketball and other contact and non-contact sports for 50 years. The only thing I found shocking about this foul was how blatant, obvious and useless it was. It was certainly spawned from frustration. As for Melo, worse than suffering the temporary pain of the moment will be knowing that he got punched in the junk on international TV and millions of youtube replays.

  10. Damien says:

    All this is just another sign that the so called “competitiveness” is tainting everything sports related. I see this as an extension of wild capitalism where victory or success primes over everything else, with no regard for the means employed… Sad but true, this GAME has become some sort of war where the big names have to be cheaters. I miss the Olympian spirit…

  11. carmelosswollenboys says:

    chris paul thought he was playing Julius Hodge and NC State again…

  12. Belizeboy says:

    Wow this article is PURE GARBAGE. Even if the NBA did not exist you would still find dirty players. Campazzo just needs to own up to what he did and say he got frustrated and retaliated. Don’t make it seem like the NBA influenced you to do that.

  13. 16going417 says:

    I agree with you 100%. Compazzo was merely giving back what he was given first. I do not believe in dirty play, but Chris Paul did knock down Compazzo first. As they say don’t dish it out if you cannot take it. However, I give the team USA credit because after Compazzo’s retaliation team USA went out and put a hurting on Argentina.

    Going to be interesting if they meet again in the second round of the elimination games, which most are expecting to happen.

    • milesfan says:

      Argentina has been woofing, flopping, crying and playing dirty from the outset (dating back to the exhibition game) don’t try to portray them as victims

      • 16going417 says:

        Not portraying them as anything. Fact is team USA drew first blood in that particular game. What Argentina does as part of their game plan or what they have done throughout the Olympics with other teams is irrelevant to me (I don’t care if Scola and Ginobili are floppers). I just care about team USA and who draws first blood. The fact is Argentina was keeping up with team USA in the first half and then CP3 sent Compazzo to the floor (first strike made by USA, not Argentina in THAT game). So, I’m not portraying Argentina as victims, but agreeing with what was written by Aschburner.

  14. ko0kiE says:

    lol.. an angry jeremy lin fan.. “that was the last time you called it a ridiculous contract!”

    • milesfan says:

      it is a ridiculous contract for a back up point guard

      • dattebayo says:

        Let’s be straight about it, shall we?
        Lin got a 25 million contract for 3 years, thats 8.3 millions per year. Is he worth that, no. Will the Rockets still benefit from this contract, yes. They will benefit from marketing him all over the world and especially in Asia.

        Melo and Stoudemire both have much higher contracts and get paid much more money. Last season they both disappointed completely and Melo only played well in April. To call Lin’s contract ridiculous after playing a mediocre season at best, is ridiculous in itself.

        And btw. Joe Johnson, Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas had or still have ridiculous contracts they were never able to live up to, not Lin…