I recently watched the Game 1 of the Spurs vs Warriors. In that game, the Spurs superstar player, Kawhi Leonard got an ankle injury. That ankle injury resulted in Leonard missing the next 2 games which turned the tide of the series. The Warriors are now leading the series 3-0 and are likely to win the series in Game 4 if Leonard does not return.
The big debate of the injury was that Warriors Center, Zaza Pachulia, intentionally stepped under Leonard to injury his ankle. Watching the replay several times, I still cannot tell if he did it on purpose or if it was an accident. The same sort of incident occurred when Kobe Bryant sprained his ankle when Hawks player Dahntay Jones stepped under him. If a basketball player is doing a step back it is very hard to defend. Defenders have to force their body into the person that is performing the step back to defend the shot and sometimes they will run under them. However, in this case it is very questionable that Pachulia stepped under Leonard on purpose judging on Pachulia’s foot movement. In my own experience, I have defended a player doing a step back, but I have never had an incident that caused my feet to be below another player. In Pachulia’s case, he is more than a foot taller than me and has the arm length to defend the shot yet he has to run toward Leonard. It is also debated that Pachulia should have stopped and his awkward movement caused his feet to go under Leonard’s resulting in a sprained ankle.
Photo by Chilli Head (CC BY 2.0)