Thibodeau defends Asik’s play

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After Chris Bosh got injured in a collision with Chicago Bulls forward Omer Asik during Saturday’s game, he was critical of Asik after the game for diving after a loose ball that was close to Bosh’s legs. Asik didn’t come all that close to the ball, but he did end up making contact with Bosh’s leg and causing the Heat forward to sprain his ankle. After the game, Bosh was of the opinion that Asik should have stayed on his feet instead of laying out for the ball:

“C’mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen,” Bosh said. “You’ve got to watch people’s legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job.

“We all want to be healthy and that is very important,” Bosh said. “If it is by somebody’s leg, don’t dive for the ball, it’s too close.”

Like Bosh’s “coach wants to us to work, we want to chill” quote from earlier this season, Bosh’s comments are both completely understandable and demonstrate a remarkable ignorance of what sports fans want to hear from professional athletes. Bosh is a skinny guy, his ankles and knees are the most vulnerable part of his body, his teammates are counting on him, and it only takes one awkward collision to end his season or keep him from ever being the same player again. Given all that, it’s understandable for Bosh to be a little mad at the guy who collided into him. But to saying that you are, in essence, of the opinion that NBA players should hustle less is never, ever going to go over well with the fans.

Even though most fans and media members were already on Asik’s side in this little “debate,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau made it clear that he doesn’t think Asik did anything wrong on Saturday during a pre-game media session on Monday. ESPN Chicago’s Nick Fridell has the report:

“I didn’t see it that way,” Thibodeau said of Bosh’s comments. “I saw it as a great hustle play. Omer’s not that type of guy. He’s not going to ever try to take somebody out. He plays hard, he plays clean. He wants to win. Sometimes people say things [in the] heat of the moment after a game so … And Chris is a tough player. Actually, he hit the floor in the first half in a similar play with Derrick, so I didn’t see it that way.”

Good of Thibodeau to stick up for his rookie center, and to give Bosh something resembling the benefit of the doubt regarding his comments. Once Bosh has had some time to heal his ankle and think about his comments, I’m sure there won’t be any lingering bad blood between Bosh and Asik over the collision.