Let’s be clear — Andrew Bynum’s foul on Gerald Wallace deserved to be called a flagrant foul. Bynum was late on his rotation and moved fast to make up for his tardiness, crashing into Wallace, who goes to the rim as hard as anyone in the league and had running start from the three-point line. It was hard foul. Bynum didn't play the ball. The fine that is surely coming is deserved.
But it was not "dirty." It was not done with intent to maim (Wallace suffered a cracked rib and partially collapsed lung). Despite what they think in Charlotte.
What Andrew Bynum did to Gerald Wallace Tuesday was dirty.
Bynum, a gigantic athlete for the Los Angeles Lakers, threw a blatant elbow and hip-check to keep Wallace from reaching the basket in the fourth quarter. I get it that every play in that quarter mattered – it did go to overtime, after all – but there were many things Bynum could have done to avert Wallace dunking. Most of them would not have involved Wallace going to the hospital.
If you watch the replay of that and think Bynum was trying to injure Wallace, you are wearing Bobcat-colored glasses. (Whatever color that is.) Hard foul? Yes. But not dirty. Bynum will get fined because the NBA routinely penalizes the result, not the action, and a suspension shouldn’t shock anyone.
But for the Lakers, the long-term ramifications here are good. Lakers fans have long wanted to punish opponents who drive to the lane uncontested (starting with Paul Pierce). They want other teams thinking there is a price to pay for going to the rim. They wanted more physical play. They got it.
Like a pitcher who throws hard on the inside part of the plate, you will hit a few batters but you establish that area as yours. Bynum plunked a player in the paint, and while the injury was worse than intended, the message has been sent.