Shane Battier has never been one of the most athletic players in the NBA, and at 34 years old, he has had to find ever more creative ways to contend with the league’s big bodies and high fliers. His methods tend to attract attention for what his supporters would call “gamesmanship” and his detractors would just call “dirtiness.”
Pacers center Roy Hibbert prefers the latter definition. In the first quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Battier drove to the hoop, where Hibbert was waiting for him. Knowing he could not score over the 7-foot-2 rim protector, Battier raised his right knee as he went up for the layup. Battier’s knee landed in Hibbert’s unprotected gut/groin area, sending the big man toppling to the floor in pain.
Battier was called for an offensive foul, but that did not keep Hibbert from offering his thoughts on the play on Twitter.
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
The Heat and Pacers have a history with this sort of thing. (Who don’t the Heat have a history with?) The Heat survived a physical series with the Pacers in last year’s conference semifinals, with Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman getting suspended for dirty fouls. From the Heat’s perspective, pretty much everything Tyler Hansbrough does qualifies as non-basketball contact and grates on them, which is probably the whole point of Hansbrough’s antics.
Check out the collision Hibbert is talking about in the photo below.