Hang Time Podcast (Episode 199) Dirty Play or Playoff Basketball?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Dirty play or just playoff basketball?

It’s a legitimate question to ask now that the postseason fate of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers has been tweaked by two plays that occurred in the Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics Sunday at TD Garden.

Kelly Olynyk‘s arm bar on Kevin Love yanked Love’s shoulder out of socket. The dislocation and subsequent labrum tear will keep him out of the Eastern Conference semifinals and perhaps the remainder of the postseason, according to Cavaliers’ general manager David Griffin. J.R. Smith‘s two-game suspension for knocking out Celtics swingman Jae Crowder will also have a huge impact on the start of that next series for the Cavaliers, who will be down two starters whenever they hit the floor.

What looks like a dirty play to one set of eyes is nothing more than playoff intensity-level basketball, good and physical play that we’ve all come to expect at this time of year from players and teams around the league. Which side of that line you come down on depends on your perspective. Love called Olynyk’s play “bush league” and James said it was “not a basketball play.”

The same could be said of Smith’s, no-look, swinging right-hook that knocked Crowder to the ground. Again, it depends on whose perspective you subscribe to and also what era of the NBA you were raised on.

Whatever your view, the playoffs, certainly in the Eastern Conference, were changed fundamentally with just two plays. And we factor that into our discussion about the postseason and where it goes from here on Episode 199 of The Hang Time Podcast: Dirty Play or Playoff Basketball?


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business, Andrew Merriman.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

VIDEO: Kevin Love talks to the media after dislocating his shoulder in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics


  1. Jill says:

    For all fans who keep stating that Olynyk’s foul was not intentional, please see the video play slowly and you will see that there was no chance for Olynyk to get the ball. He was far away of his reach, but what he had was Love’s arm and he had it quite locked to his own arm and maliciously yanked and torsioned it with harmful intention. He wanted to hurt him. NBA officials are not using the same technology that they started to use for better control of games. Olynyk should be suspended for life as a malicious and dirty player and set a precedent for those dirty players in the NBA. Here we have a great player injured and maybe with sequels since the ligament may not heal the same. Olynyk only ONE game suspension and will continue to hurt players in the NBA. Fans go to games to enjoy talent not to witness VIOLENCE and RAGE. NBA officials please review the video tape and act accordingly.

  2. Dirk says:

    Play offs or not it’s a dirty foul. It might not be intentional but it shouldn’t be approved because of the (play off) time it took place.
    The rules should apply no matter what. Approving this because it’s the play offs just seems weird. Puts the door open for this kind of game ending plays.

  3. Lee says:

    Its playoffs. Look how a hard foul on Steve Nash by Robert Horry in game 4 of Spurs – Suns 2007 playoffs changed the game for the Spurs. It might not seem unethical but it wins games.

  4. ognjenpuljak says:

    Kelly olynyk pulled an arm bar on love with the intention to cause him pain and to provoke him. The result of it was Love s dislocated shoulder. Olynyk was frustrated coz he was on the losing end of boxing out battle, saw the opportunitiy to “get even” with love and, because his lost his temper, started pulling love s arm in an opposite direction. He had both hands locked on his forearm and obviously knew that it will hurt love if he starts pulling in opposite direction so he did it coz he lost his temper for one brief moment. He obviously could feel that Love s hand is in unnatural position and you can see that evil grim on his face while he was doing it. He knew that it will hurt love, he lost his temper for a moment and he hurt him intentionally. One can argue that he had no intention to dislocate his shoulder but that is another matter, it is a philosophical question. J. R. Smith can say the same than, he can say that he didnt want to knock Crowder out, that he just wanted to slap him a bit, cause minor pain in order to provoke him.
    Shame on Olynyk when he said that those kind of tangle ups happen all the time. Love had his hand tangled up a moment before the incident occured and those kind of tangle ups do happen all the time in NBA, indeed. What Kelly did was an arm bar tough. Bush league play. Same happened when Tyson bit Hollyfield ear. He was frustrated, couldnt do anything fairly, he lost his temper when Hollyfield s ear was in front of his teeth and reacted. It just looks more savage like but its the same.
    In the end, I do belive that Olynyk had no intention to dislocate Loves shoulder and injure him on a long term. These things always happened and will continue to happen when guys compete and it is this important. It is natural to get frustrated and lose temper. You have to admit what really happened, tough. League just have to review the plays and react swiftly and justly, like it has done so far. It sends the message to players that they are being watched and that there s no way that players could get away with stuff like that. Both punishments were short so that this game could have as little as possible effect on the remaining cavs games.

  5. GreenBirdCro says:

    A lot of fan stuff here. Pro or contra Cs or Cavs or Bron etc.
    That’s the real bush-league-of-comments. So let me add some hate-speech of my own…
    I hate that KL got hurt. I hate this witch-hunt against KO.
    I hate that you can do what Perk and JR did and get away with it w/ almost no penalty.
    In my time I had received a lot of elbows, pushes, hits and all sorts of nastiness on the court.
    It’s a man’s game. Ain’t no volleyball.
    However, at the same time it sure the h€ll ain’t MMA either, and even those guys know how to avoid injuries to their opponents.
    If anyone is interested in conspiracy theories… Well, look no further… Penalties after this game clearly show who’s the $ favorite.
    Again. Cs felt that before. Remember the dislocated shoulder? And, finally, here’s one more interesting point of view:

    “@SeanGrandePBP: Yeah, that would be 0.

    Perkins – 99
    JR Smith – 51
    Love – 13

    RT @airvipmrohde Question: in his career, how many technicals has Kelly had?
    Shared via TweetCaster”

  6. Rarignac says:

    Love was straight-arming KO, and grabbed his arm first, and then KO tried to pull him away from the ball. In that foul-fest I don’t know who was more wrong. But Kevin Love, in the heat of the moment and the pain of injury and disappointment in going down for some number of games at playoff time, was wrong to accuse KO of trying to take him out with a “bush league play.” Olynyk apologized, and I believe he is sorry and surprised at the injury suffered, Love should have apologized to Olynyk for his baseless accusation. I’m surprised that the league gave Olynyk a one game suspension, he doesn’t deserve it, it was just to appease the star. He had the foul called on him, otherwise it was a freak.
    Time for Love to be a man and apologize.
    David Blatt should be suspended for a whole bunch of games. It can be no coincidence that several different players came in to try to injure Jae Crowder, whose crime was playing good, solid, honest defense on Lebron James. Blatt organized a mugging on the court in the glare of the bright lights of TD Garden. That was the outrage committed in game 4, 1st round East.

    • yyy says:

      I agree, what perk and smith did to crowder was disqusting, and 10 times worse than what olynyk did, smith got 2 games, thats a joke! worldpeace got 7 when he elbowed harden, smith got 2 games for a knocking out a player and injure him at the same time. Charles Barkley said he should get 10 games and I agree.

      That olynyk got suspended for a play that happens every game is a joke!

  7. robert says:

    April 29, 2015 at 12:03 am
    The question here is who initiated the contact first?

    No, the fact is that Olynik and love tangle, THEN Olynik grab the arm of love, intentionally, in a very strange and non basketball-tangle way, then he makes a premedited frustration move that injure him.
    that’s what happen with dirty players, they always add something special at the end, when the “tangle” is supposed to be other.
    “sorry i caught him in a arm bar, i pushed when it was locked, i don’t now why his arm broke” ? total hypocrit for me, but the worst is that you guys HAVE THE REPLAY and try to not see the arm bar.
    the basketball players know exactly what i mean.
    kevin love also knows

  8. ricz says:

    It’s playoff man!

    Olynyk didn’t intentionally did that to injure love… It’s just your typical playoff roughness

  9. Bigtiz58 says:

    I’m sorry but K-Love is right that was completely and obviously intentional and yes Olynyk meant to hurt K-Love. All you have to do is look at Olynyk’s reaction too obvious. It’s just hard for people to accept the fact that this really happened in the NBA of all places on live television. Just ask one question why was Olynyk pulled from the game immediately after that play if Olynyk didn’t do it intentionally no one on Cleveland knew what happened until halftime. Someone on Boston must have had known Cleveland would want to retaliate for something. I’m a retired veteran i was level 3 combatives certified i know what an arm bar looks like. Perkins foul hard yes but necessary. J.R. Smith has anger issues yes but this is being wrongly broadcast only showing the punch and not what lead up to it. J.R. was pushed from the foul line to underneath the basket almost getting knocked over with 2 referees looking directly at it. I’m sorry but a man has every right to defend himself. As far the punishment that’s ridiculous J.R. & Perkins were good but Olynyk needs to miss at least 41 games if not a whole season. Honestly what player would want to be on the same court with someone who could do that and who’s say it won’t happen again. K-Love keep your head up you had most likely one the greatest experiences in your life stolen from you by a kid who was jealous of your success.

  10. Miani says:

    Seems brutal to me. Like a move that people learn in martial arts lessons. Olynyk locked Love’s arm and then used all his body weight to push it to the opposite direction. This move should have sent Olynyk to at least 20 games suspension.

  11. colby says:

    he obviously did it on purpose because he had both his arms around Kevin loves and pulled the opposite direction of the ball. so yah olynik is a chump and deserves to be out for 10 games and fined

  12. bob says:

    Where are the bad boys Pistons when you need them?

  13. anonymous says:

    If you look at the replay clearly, yes it was intentional to lock love’s arm but definitely not for the reason of injuring love, it was to let his own boston teammate to get the ball.

    The INTENTION was to lock love up so olynyk’s teammate could get the ball, NOT to dislocate or injure love. it’s obvious as hell that’s the reason.

  14. Nick says:

    Seemed to me:
    1. they both turned around to chase a rebound.
    2. Love stuck his left arm at Olynyk’s torso to slow him down.
    3. Olynyk locked Love’s left arm for theatrics to initiate a foul call with the refs.
    4. As far as this ‘jerking’ motion, one thing I can vouch for (as a constant Celtic viewer) is that Olynyk is one clumsy bastard.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Guys, did you watch the game? Did you saw how many times crowder pushes jr smith from behind before jr smith knocked him down? You should watch it first before you judge jr smith of what he done. Regarding to kelly’s foul i agree its not a dirty play but the damage done by kelly to love’s shoulder is so severe it only shows how much force kelly put in to love’s shoulder during that play so either international or not its a huge blow for cavs for the rest of the postseason.

  16. lbj says:

    Love and Olynyk were tangled and tugging at each other. I’d like to think that there was no malicious intent on Olynyk’s part.

    I love hard screens. It’s part of being a big man in the NBA. However, I do not like Perkins’ hard screen, while clocking Crowder on the head, as a basketball play. Even more so for J.R. Smith swinging and hitting Crowder in the face!

  17. Razor Ramone says:

    Well, I am fan of basketball, not basket brawl. Yes the level of intensity rises in the playoffs. But, let’s really look at this incident. There may be several reasons for which some believe that this was a common (for the lack of proper wording) foul.
    Not a hard foul but never the less a foul. To that, I’d say that this was intentional. If you look at the replay in slow motion, there cannot be one person on this planet that believes otherwise. Olynk had both of his arms interlocking love’s. Not to mention Olynk locked Love’s arms almost 30 feet from the paint, where lock ups do not occur. It is not something you see that far away from the basket. There was no reason for Olynk to lock Love’s arm period. A simply body to body would have been sufficient. He could not get to the ball, and he made sure Love could not either. The Celtics, yes the Celtics have a history of doing such things in big games. I still remember the clothesline of Rambis by McCale in a playoff game. Add to the mix a new team (Boston’s), really did not have any other means to compete with the Cav’s or any team for that matter, unless they take physical to another level, That is why that game went that way. The ref’s seemingly were giving Boston the benefit of the doubt on many calls, just so that boston could stay in the game and compete. The ref’s from the outset were terrible, especially in game 4. I’m just saying

  18. intentional foul says:

    It is very obvious. Being out of position and both arms on K Love’s arm.
    You all still think Kelly is going for the ball?!

  19. Lukas says:

    The question here is who initiated the contact first? It was obviously Kevin Love who clipped Kelly Olynyk right shoulder first and then Kelly was just doing his job to react on whatever the play was. Injury happened and I dont think Kelly meant to hurt Kevin Love, he was just too strong than Kevin. I would think if Kelly’s shoulder was hurt would there be any suspension for Kevin Love? I doubt it, since Cleveland is going to the second round. It seems like there is a little bit of unfair judgement here.

  20. jahoops says:

    Theres no already ball involved in that play theres no reason to grip that hard the shoulder of klove.
    its a legit basketball play but to me that particular play is rough and the jr smith foul is not basketball play, its loud and clear👊

  21. rex says:

    Really don’t think it was an intentionally malicious foul on Olynyk’s part.

    Although a controversial idea, I’m thinking that it had to do a little bit with the fact that JR is black and Olynyk is white. If the league were to only suspend JR, it might look like racial profiling. This is especially true with everything our nation has been through in the last year.

    If you look at the two plays though, JR’s is clearly an intentional attempt to hurt Crowder. Olynyk’s play is one that you’ll see often in basketball, even in the regular season. A similar play happened in the Grizzlies and Blazers game between Green and Batum, as pointed out by Barkley.

  22. Quam31 says:

    Obviously it was a intentional fool. The question was do you feel that play was a dirty play. The answer is no. Whether this was playoffs or regular season this type of play happens all the time. The difference is a player got injured and since that player happens to be on Lebron’s team its getting all the wrong attention. Seriously how many times in the nba players get tangled up or hold onto each other so they can’t get to the ball. It’s for the refs to call a holding foul or get away with a hold.
    Jr Smiith’s attack was a dirty play where a player got injured but how come that is not getting the same kind of attention. It happened in the same game. Being on Lebron’s team you receive all kinds of benefits and I’m not talking about rings.

  23. Kalbo!! says:

    Kelly might have really had some intentions in doing that but I don’t think he intended to dislocate Love’s shoulder. Cavs seem to be just bitter because they’d probably be without Kevin the rest of the playoff on top of Smith being suspended for 2 days. Well, in fairness, JR did something a lot worse and without a doubt a dirty play. Not a hater of LBJ but before he comment on the other, he should acknowledge his own team’s.

  24. kobeballhog says:

    only crazy people will say that this is a baskteball play, its so obvious with the way he used his left arm to pull on the other, he may not intended to dislocate love arm, but his intentions was to hurt, as a result of olynyk bonehead play he injured love without intending to do so. olynyk can give as many reasons he wants but true fans know he meant to hurt love, olynyk should be banned whole season for derailing cavs championship run.

    • bob says:

      Pistons of old would so beat most of these teams now…..
      Basketball used to be a sport for man. Now it is just entertainment, whining, and ever changing rules.
      Flopping etc.
      Used to be that the strongest guy just was the last man standing, now you see big guys just whining and flopping…….

  25. Mark says:

    Both players simply got tangled up with each other. Unfortunately, Love got the worse out of it. I’m a die hard Boston fan. It was very nice to see all the young players on the Celtics giving it their all. They over-achieved this year. Hopefully, Love still has interest in joining the Celtics in free-agency this summer. We would love to have him. Love has 2 options: 1) Win championships with Lebron in his shadow or 2) Build a new era with the Celtics as having him as a star attraction to bring in more players to hopefully raise banner 18! If Love is still upset over Kelly’s “bush league” play, not a problem, Ainge will send Kelly out of Boston in a heartbeat to get Love into a GREEN uniform. Love is a well respected man in Boston, we would soak up him with all the glory!

  26. Tane says:

    In my view, the officials should’ve acted before the offending actions in both instances occurred. In both cases, Cavs players are in position to rebound the ball before the Celtics players came charging in bumping and pushing the Cavs players. The officials should’ve called fouls on Olynick before he and Love got tangled up, and on Crowder before he got whacked in the face. There’s a fine line between playing hard, which I support, and going too far, which I believe the Celtics players did in these instances.

  27. lepolepo says:

    I disagree with BG, Olynyk’s play is NOT often seen in basketball at all.
    YES, guys get tangled up all the time, but if you watch the play in slow-mo you see that Olynyk’s chance to get to the ball is LONG gone, he could have pulled him away for a slim second and ended it, but he literally YANKED Love’s shoulder out when there was absolutely no way he would ever get to it any more. (Neither Olynyk or Love)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Olynyk didn’t mean to dislocate his shoulder or hurt Love in any way, it was a scramble and it went too hard, but I feel like there was no reason for him to go that hard at all.

    I guess he was zoned in, adrenaline pumping and whatever

  28. MO says:

    I believe that it was an intentional foul because of the fact that he bought his second arm and basically squeezed with both arms. If it was just a tangle up, then he wouldn’t have brought the second arm on to Keven Loves arm and then squeezed.

    Just my opinion.

  29. HeatLifer says:

    Love did the same to Olynyk, which led to his reaction….. JR meant to hurt Crowder, he is a nasty player…… BUT at the end of the day I’d call it KARMA catching up to LeBron. He should have been honest when he left the Heat and not wait till the last moments in an effort to cripple the team that helped him get those rings!!!

    At the end of the day… he has 2 rings but the Heat have not 1, not 2, but THREE THROPHYS IN OUR HOUSE!!!!

  30. TB says:

    It was pretty obvious by watching the replay that Olynyk actually made a motion to yank on Love’s arm. How can one say this was not intentional? I am no where near a Cavs fan, so my comments and views are not bias. He got suspended, so obviously it was dirty.

  31. zulu says:

    There maybe lines but when you send another competitor to the hospital and /or your actions have that potential! Come on Rick, The action against Love the other day surplanted the McHale kneck tie take down of Rambis years ago. Both actions crossed a line of there own….. Good podcast fellas

  32. harriethehawk says:

    Both Olynyk and JR Smith deserved harsher punishment. Kevin Love is out for the entire playoffs. I felt the same way when Russell Westbrook got hurt by that stupid guard Patrick Beverly from the Houston Rockets (who is now out from injury himself). I think in both cases it was intentional. Don’t be fooled by the pretty innocent face of Olynyk.

  33. NanaPat says:

    Rough and tumble may be part of the playoff season historically, but I have never seen this escalation of the frequency, level and intensity in any other season.
    One of the beautiful things about pro basketball is CONTROL, but through ball handling and positioning and smart plays.
    Playoffs are about the elite of the elite in an elite sport that demands so much mentally, physically, emotionally and court IQ.

    Now it seems LOSING CONTROL is the “go-to” skill – and even accepted by fans, players and sports commentators.
    Fans in the arena are getting so worked up about it, one expects a soccer-like riot to break out.

    IMO, a much bigger issue than flouing a poor free throw player.

    It’s sad to see the NBA devolve into the NFL or the NHL .

  34. BG says:

    Really don’t think it was an intentionally malicious foul on Olynyk’s part.

    Although a controversial idea, I’m thinking that it had to do a little bit with the fact that JR is black and Olynyk is white. If the league were to only suspend JR, it might look like racial profiling. This is especially true with everything our nation has been through in the last year.

    If you look at the two plays though, JR’s is clearly an intentional attempt to hurt Crowder. Olynyk’s play is one that you’ll see often in basketball, even in the regular season. A similar play happened in the Grizzlies and Blazers game between Green and Batum, as pointed out by Barkley.

    • Ope says:

      Well, this is the season when all physicality takes place, and this is just one along with the ones from Perkins and Smith, just anger, loser, and rough plays. Nothing intentionally, everyone fighting to be a winner and everyone cannot be a winner.