HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s a good thing Roy Hibbert isn’t worried about being fined for his comments after the Indiana Pacers’ Game 6 win in the Eastern Conference finals, because the penalty for his words is surely on the way.
It’s one thing to take shots at the media for not recognizing his defensive prowess the way he thinks we should have, it’s another thing to use an expletive with live microphones and a worldwide audience on NBA TV and NBA.com when you do it.
“Y’all m————- don’t watch us play throughout the year to tell you the truth,” Hibbert said. “So that’s fine. I’m going to be real with you, and I don’t care if I get fined. We play and we’re not on TV all of the time and reporters are the ones that are voting and it is what it is. And I don’t make it, that’s fine. I’m still going to do what I have to do.”
The gay slur used to punctuate his point about the defense being played against four-time MVP LeBron James that wasn’t intended to be a slur, well, Hibbert will try to make amends with Jason Collins and others, but the damage is already done.
Like I said, the fine is coming. The dent Hibbert put in his own reputation, however, is already there. He crossed the line in this instance — and for no reason. Hibbert is playing well enough right now that just going out and dominating the Heat would suffice. He could skip the podium every night and still make his point in this series.
You could almost see this coming, with the increased intensity in the series and Hibbert’s continued escalation of the verbal escapades directed at Shane Battier and anyone who doesn’t believe in him and his Pacers teammates. It’s an unfortunate and unnecessary storyline for the lead up to Game 7, Monday night in Miami (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
You rarely need any extra hype for Game 7 of a playoff series, though, let alone the conference finals.
Hibbert’s play has provided all the hype needed through the first six games of this series anyway. He has been an absolute nightmare for the Heat, averaging 22.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 39.8 minutes while shooting 55 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free-throw line. He’s absolutely destroyed the Heat frontcourt in this series.
He and Paul George came up with 52 points and 19 rebounds on their own in Game 6, outscoring the Heat’s weary “Big 3″ of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (44 and 13). Hibbert has been the most consistent force on both ends of the floor in this series, and that includes James.
Hibbert is getting air time with the NBA’s global audience that he’s never had. The first impression is an important one, especially for a player who aims to make a significant climb up the “best big man in basketball” ladder between now and next season, no matter how this series plays out.
I’d hate to see Hibbert ruin that momentum with one liners and verbal missteps that take away from the utter brilliance he’s shown on the court. Finish the Heat off and maybe then you will garner the respect you think you’ve already earned.
If it’s respect that Hibbert wants, he’ll earn it with another monster effort in Game 7 and not anything that comes out of his mouth before, during or after this series is done.
Meanwhile, Hibbert issued this apology on Pacers.com:
“I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night. They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television. I apologize to those who I have offended, to our fans and to the Pacers’ organization. I sincerely have deep regret over my choice of words last night.”