NBA Reviews Dwyane Wade's Elbow to Lance Stephenson's Head in Game 2

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 25, 2013

Dwyane Wade wasn't whistled for a foul when he caught Lance Stephenson with an elbow in Game 2, but now that the NBA will take a second look at the play, the Miami Heat guard might be in for some discipline.

According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the play is being reviewed by the league to determine whether any punishment is necessary.


UPDATE: Sunday, May 26, at 2:35 p.m. ET by Ethan Norof

According to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, the NBA has given Dwyane Wade a flagrant-one foul for his elbow to Stephenson, but he will not be suspended and will be available for Game 3 vs. Indiana.

---End of Update---


Before going further, here's a look at the elbow in question:

For what it's worth, Zillgitt is probably correct when he says that the league will be hard-pressed to find the key element it requires in order to impose any sanctions.

Wade was at nearly a full sprint, and Stephenson made a somewhat unexpected move into his path. Could Wade have taken a route around Stephenson that didn't involve a flying leap? Probably.

But Wade was in pursuit of a ball that he had actually turned over and seemed set on making it back on defense as rapidly as possible. He definitely caught Stephenson flush, but it'll be exceedingly difficult to prove he meant to do so.

And hey, at least the airborne elbow has an entertaining name.

Contextually, there is an argument to be made that if Wade wasn't trying to purposefully clock Stephenson, he was at least not going to make an effort to avoid contact. The first two games of the series between the Pacers and Heat have been marked by a handful of testy plays, and Wade has been involved in his share.

Tyler Hansbrough dragged him down in Game 2 after fouling him on a jumper. Wade clearly took exception to that incident. If you really wanted to try to get into D-Wade's head to divine his intent toward Stephenson, that might be a good place to start.

But the chippiness has gone both ways, so a second look at Wade's play should warrant more scrutiny for a few others. In the interest of fairness, the league could double-check LeBron James' nearly imperceptible shot at Sam Young in Game 2, or a half-dozen other physical altercations that went uncalled.

Then again, maybe it's best to just leave well enough alone and move on.

Obviously, some folks reacted a bit more strongly than others when it happened.

Ultimately, thinking is what matters for Wade's play. Because the league can't honestly deduce from the evidence that he actually intended to ding Stephenson, the only way there'll be further discipline is if the NBA wants to send a message in an effort to clean up a physical series.

For the sake of pure entertainment and the enjoyment of hard-fought games, let's hope that's not what happens.