Late in the first quarter of the Heat’s overtime Game 1 win over the Pacers, Shane Battier drove into the lane and challenged Roy Hibbert on a layup attempt. Battier’s form was more than a little unorthodox as he went up for the shot, leading with his right knee that caught Hibbert squarely below the belt.
Battier was ruled for the offensive foul on the play, and the referees actually reviewed it to see if there was the possibility that it could be ruled a flagrant — something extremely rare when fouls are made by the offensive player.
The play stood as a common foul, and because it occurred so early in a game with so many dramatic moments that decided it late, it was largely forgotten.
A day later, however, Hibbert took to his Twitter account to remind us of what had happened, and to let us know that he didn’t believe that the contact was in any way accidental.
U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. Ill be there 2protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) May 23, 2013
It’s an interesting thing to bring up a day later, considering all that went down in the game after this particular play had happened. Perhaps Hibbert saw it again in a film session, or was reminded of it while meeting the media after practice. But for whatever reason it was still on his mind, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew he didn’t appreciate Battier’s actions.
As for whether or not it was intentional, only Battier can answer that question. It’s doubtful that there was an intent to injure on Battier’s part, but once he saw Hibbert was there and that he’d have zero chance of scoring over him, that’s when he likely decided to lead with the knee in an obvious attempt to make contact to try to draw the foul.
It’s worth noting that there were a few other incidents involving Battier and Pacers’ players in this one, and even another “low blow” scenario involving one of Battier’s teammates.
In the fourth quarter, Norris Cole caught David West with a shot to the groin as West stepped out to defend him. The referees saw it and whistled Cole for the foul, but again, no flagrant. We’ll see if that changes as the series goes on if the Heat decide to continue to target this particular region when attacking their opponents.