Ibaka’s punishment met with criticism from NBA players.
Following his flagrant foul on Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Serge Ibaka was fined $25,000 by the association, but escaped suspension.
The decision didn’t go unnoticed by Ibaka’s fellow league players, including the Miami Heat duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who have been critical on Twitter.
Ibaka had his initial Flagrant 1 foul upgraded to a Flagrant 2 for his below-the-belt hit on Griffin at the Staples Center on Sunday night.
However, having escaped suspension he was able to take to the court against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night and helped the Thunder to a 122-105 win.
“It’s always better to play than sit down watching the game,” Ibaka told reporters after the decision was announced according to NBA.com.
However, his sentiment wasn’t shared by many on Twitter, with Griffin, the victim of Ibaka’s hit, leading the way with a sarcastic tweet of his own:
“Kid Blake: Who are you? Future Blake: you from the future…don’t listen to anything else I’ve told you just start wearing a cup.”
Team-mate Matt Barnes was a little more confused though: “You can INTENTIONALLY grab or hit someone in the balls & not get suspended, but you push someone & get suspended. #ImConfused.”
There was also a reaction from Miami, as James and Wade questioned how the latter received a much harsher punishment than Ibaka for a similar altercation.
James asked: “Explain to me the difference? My team-mate gets a 1 game suspension and 150k taken away from him for his groin altercation #strangetome.”
While Wade was after an explanation of his own: “All I can say is WoW…no pun intended but really…and I get suspended and lose 200 grand…#someexplainingtodo.”
Ibaka brushed off the comments after admitting he had heard about them, maintaining his innocence by arguing he had no intention of hurting Griffin in what was a physical game.
He also apologised to the fans, and will undoubtedly want to move on from the incident as he continues to help the Thunder chase down top spot in the Western Conference.