Dahntay Jones has been hearing it from everyone today — Kobe Bryant has vociferous defenders online and in the media, and when he sprained his ankle then said and tweeted he felt it was intentional, the attack dogs came out.
And a lot of people such as TrueHoop’s Henry Abbot (certainly not always a Kobe backer) raised legitimate questions about what Jones did — he tightly contested and Kobe’s potentially game-tying shot, but he didn’t leave Kobe room to land. (By the way, did anyone else enjoy the irony of Bruce Bowen calling Jones out for this on ESPN?)
After the game Kobe referenced Jalen Rose, a player that admitted he slid under Kobe intentionally in the NBA finals and forced him to miss a game with a sprained ankle.
On SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio channel 86 Thursday, host Adam Schein (“Schein on Sports”) got Jones to talk about the play — and as he tweeted the night before Jones said this was not intentional.
“After the game I felt bad and heard the responses and things of that nature, that he sprained his ankle. After I turned around on the play I saw that he was hurt and I thought that I did hurt him. We went in the locker room and looked at it and when we looked at it from three different angles it looked as if he came down on the floor but my foot was behind where he came down on. And I didn’t feel him come down on my ankle so I never thought he came down on my foot. And usually when shooters come down on your foot they come down on the top of your foot and that’s how they roll [their] ankle. So I felt bad. That’s why I kept looking at the play to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. And I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. I was trying to contest the jump shot and my job as a defender is to make people uncomfortable and to challenge shots. I had an iso with eight seconds. I was trying to get him to go where I wanted him to. He pulls up and does a fadeaway and his leg kick I ran into and it made him come down awkwardly. That’s how the play went. But I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. It’s very hard to time somebody’s foot, to walk under someone’s foot and do things of that nature when the game is on the line….
“I just wanted to do my job and just try to contest the shot. It was a fadeaway. When guys shoot fadeaways you’re not just supposed to let them go, you’re supposed to keep playing and try and get as close as possible to be able to challenge the shot. I didn’t want to give up on the play. I wanted to make sure I was there so he would at least see me and feel me. I didn’t have a chance to worry about his landing. I didn’t want to hurt him and get in the middle of his landing but I was just trying to contest the shot.”
This comes back to the basic argument — Jones contested and had to move in to do so because it was a fadeaway. He clearly didn’t give Kobe enough room to land, but Kobe was kicking out his right leg as well (it’s clear on the video).
I don’t think what Jones did was intentional. I think there is a valid case to be made that you should call every foul when a player doesn’t have room to land, but that is not how the league has called things pretty much ever. And you do need to be careful because if you start calling it the best offensive players will try to draw that foul, the same way they did with the rip move.
It’s a complex issue. Kobe will use it as fuel because Kobe uses everything as fuel. But I don’t see Jones as a villain.