Previous NBA player turned ESPN analyst Jalen Rose is in a unique position to discuss Kawhi Leonard play on Zaza Pachulia’s foot, regardless of whether the move was intended, and all the aftermath from what happened.
All things considered, it’s a move he pulled in the past on one Kobe Bryant.
Talking on an ESPN media call, Rose, who is on ESPN’s NBA pregame indicate NBA Countdown with Michelle Beadle and Chauncey Billups, stated, “While something doesn’t have to be dirty or malicious, it can be flagrant.
“I think that’s how the league should call it, and I do think that’s what took place on that play.”
After Leonard re-sprained his ankle in the third quarter of game one of the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors were able to rally from as much as 25 points down to beat the San Antonio Spurs.
When asked to elaborate, Rose said, “It’s a flagrant play. It’s not necessarily dirty, because that puts emotion into it. It’s not — it’s more irresponsible. It’s more reckless than anything else. When you go to contest a shot — if you look at his play, his initial momentum with the split, it stops when he contested the shot. Once his foot stops, he moved it again.
“The one thing about being a professional athlete is you know your body better than anyone. You know the real estate of the floor better than anyone, other than the guy clearly that’s out there with you playing basketball for a living. You also know the scouting report of each player. Just like a fan in the stands or somebody watching the game that can’t hear the volume. We all just saw Kawhi Leonard injure his ankle two times before that play.
“So it can be viewed as a coincidence. I don’t necessarily think it is. But, again, to me the term “dirty” adds emotion. I don’t think that he was trying to put Kawhi in a position to where he couldn’t play basketball again. I don’t think that — I do know there is a difference between being injured and being hurt. So that’s why the league should call it as such. That clearly should be a flagrant foul.”
Rose can speak with authority on such a move because he did exactly that during the 2000 NBA Finals as a member of the Indiana Pacers, going up against Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers.
Back in 2012, Rose spoke candidly about what had happened for the first time, telling Grantland, “I think I did it on purpose. I can’t say it was an accident.
“Kobe Bean Bryant goes up for a jump shot out on the right wing. I contest the jump shot. Kobe lands on my foot. He hobbles off and actually misses the next game. If it was up to me, he should’ve just missed the whole series. I would’ve had a championship ring, and it would’ve been no harm, no foul.”
The Pacers still lost that game, to fall to a 0-2 hole. Indiana took game three to trail 2-1, before the Lakers won it in six.
According to Rose though, Bryant got his “basketball karma” when he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors, with a good stretch of those buckets coming with Rose as the defender.