Here is what the rulebook says about the determination of whether a player gets a suspension.
The League Office will consider the following factors (as well as any other relevant facts and circumstances) in determining whether to classify a foul as Flagrant “1″ or Flagrant “2″, to reclassify a flagrant foul, or to impose a fine and/or suspension on the player involved:
1. The severity of the contact; 2. Whether or not the player was making a legitimate basketball play (e.g., whether a player is making a legitimate effort to block a shot; note, however, that a foul committed during a block attempt can still be considered flagrant if other criteria are present such as recklessness and hard contact to the head) 3. Whether, on a foul committed with a player’s arm or hand, the fouling player wound up and/or followed through after making contact; 4. The potential for injury resulting from contact (e.g., a blow to the head and a foul committed while a player is in a vulnerable position); 5. The severity of any injury suffered by the offended player; and 6. The outcome of the contact (e.g., whether it led to an altercation).
Now, I’ll go over the six factors individually.
- Severity of the contact – Granted, Garnett’s elbow wasn’t the fiercest of hits. But, um, it was a flush elbow to the jaw. Bad for Garnett, I’d say.
- Whether or not the player was making a legitimate basketball play – Considering that play was stopped and Garnett was standing out of bounds, I’m going to have to say that his elbow did not constitute as a legitimate basketball play.
- Whether, on a foul committed with a player’s arm or hand, the fouling player wound up and/or followed through after making contact – Did Garnett wind up? I’m not sure I’d classify it as a windup, but there sure was some intent behind it. Garnett looked over his shoulder, lined up Richardson’s jaw, and hammered it with his ‘bow. Not much of a follow-through, though, so the style points were a little low.
- The potential for injury resulting from contact (e.g., a blow to the head and a foul committed while a player is in a vulnerable position) – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that any time you hit someone in the head, there is a possibility that an injury will result from the contact. Sorry, KG.
- The severity of any injury suffered by the offended player – This is the one that looks best for Garnett. Not only was Quentin Richardson uninjured by the blow, but he also was fine enough to continue chirping after the game.
- The outcome of the contact (e.g., whether it led to an altercation) – Another damning rule. The elbow didn’t result in a full-on brawl, but it certainly elevated the scuffle to the next level.
All of which leaves Kevin Garnett resigned to a fate that may not include playing in Game Two.
“You make your bed, you have to lay in it,” he told the Boston Herald. “So if I have to deal with it, then it is what it is. I’m just smarter than that. Composure is everything in the playoffs. . . . I have to keep my composure in a situation like that.”