So I'm watching game five of the Pacers-Heat Eastern Conference semifinal series right now and decided I had to take issue with Steve Kerr's analysis. There were a couple of incidences occurring relatively close to each other during the second period of the game where first Tyler Hansbrough of the Pacers was assessed a Flagrant "1" foul for a foul committed against Miami's Dwyane Wade and then the Heat's Udonis Haslem was assessed a Flagrant "1" foul for a foul committed against Hansbrough. First of all, if you see replays of these two plays, it is pretty clear that there is absolutely no equivalence between these two fouls. The referees screwed up in their assessments, as Kerr suggested, but Kerr's analysis seems absurd as well.
First of all, I'll provide the definitions of the two types of flagrant fouls as listed at NBA.com:
Flagrant "1" (FFP1) - unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent. The opposing team is awarded two (2) free throws and possession.Flagrant "2" (FFP2) - unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. The opposing team is awarded two (2) free throws and possession and the player committing the foul is automatically ejected.
Now Kerr explains that Hansbrough's foul was a borderline Flagrant "2" offense and Haslem's was definitely a Flagrant "2". With Kerr's assessment of Haslem's foul, I wholeheartedly agree. Haslem's foul on Hansbrough was unnecessary and excessive. He made no pretense of trying to make a play on the ball, but instead chose to rake both of his hands across Hansbrough's face and head. It seemed clear to me that this was a retaliatory play for Hansbrough's foul at the other end of the court. However, Kerr's assessment of the Hansbrough foul is completely unsupported by what occurred, and I'm unsure of what he was actually viewing.
First of all, Hansbrough makes a clear attempt at blocking the ball on Wade's drive toward the basket. So clear is this attempt by Hansbrough that he actually does make contact with the ball during the play. And this was a more difficult thing for Hansbrough to do than Haslem considering that on Hansbrough's shot he went straight up in the air attempting the shot while Wade was attacking the basket when Hansbrough met him on his right side, with the ball shielded by his body. Yet, Hansbrough was able to block the ball away with his right hand as the two met. It so happened that Hansbrough collided with Wade lower with the body and then on the follow-through of blocking the ball, Hansbrough's hand hit Wade across the face, but this does not rise anywhere close to "unnecessary and excessive contact." I'm not sure what Kerr was looking at, whether he was reacting just to the fact that Wade's face was bleeding and that he went to the floor, but it is absurd to say that was a "borderline" Flagrant "2". If anything that was a borderline Flagrant "1".