- Heat vs. Pacers: Series Hub
When the Eastern Conference finals shifts back to Indianapolis for Game 6 Saturday night, Miami’s Chris “Birdman” Andersen needs to spectate from his hotel room or his aviary or whatever other perch he can find outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Because the NBA needs to deliver a one-game suspension for Andersen’s actions in a second-quarter skirmish.
Not just for what Andersen did to Pacers reserve forward Tyler Hansbrough, either. For his tussle with referee Marc Davis.
By now, the sequence of events involving Andersen and Hansbrough is widely known: Miami’s tightly wound big man, while trying to rebound, got nudged from behind by Indiana’s Paul George. Only he didn’t get George’s license plate — he apparently thought Hansbrough had delivered the bump. So as the two ran upcourt behind the play, he bumped “back” at Hansbrough, the collision sending the Indiana player sprawling.
Hansbrough, startled at first, took exception and Andersen was all too willing to continue what he had started. The two closed the distance between them and bumped chests, at which point Andersen sharply shoved Hansbrough back with two hands.
OK, that should have been enough to eject Andersen right there. The only difference between what Andersen did on the shove and what Chicago’s Nazr Mohammed did in shoving LeBron James in Game 3 of the semifinals was that James went sprawling, sliding several feet in what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau referred to as a “flop.”
Hansbrough’s mistake, even as the NBA seems ripe to wring out flopping, looks to be not (ahem) selling the play to refs Danny Crawford, Jim Capers and Davis. He couldn’t even had he tried, because teammate Roy Hibbert was there to catch him.
So Andersen delivers two blows — both of which sure looked to be “unnecessary” and “excessive” — and yet, upon review, gets slapped only with a flagrant-1 foul. But the skirmish wasn’t over.
One of the referees, Davis, gets in front of Andersen and moves him backward away from Hansbrough to stop a possible escalation of the beef. What does Andersen do? He pushes back. He grabs Davis’ wrist with his right hand. He pushes on the referee’s arm with his left. All of this physical contact with a game official because he’s steamed, because he didn’t like getting bumped from behind or because, in some misguided way, he’s trying to ignite (incite?) his Heat teammates and/or the crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena.
That was the most disturbing thing about the incident. Andersen did enough to be ejected then — or, a little late, suspended now for one game — with his hits on Hansbrough. But he crossed the line by getting physical with Davis.
No way should any NBA referee be subject to that sort of wrestling or manhandling, lest people assume they’re just part of the act in Andersen’s dumb WWE display.