Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Jeff Foster And The Brutal Art Of The NBA's Playoff Foul

Indiana's veteran forward Jeff Foster told the Indianapolis Star this week that he knows he'll be considered the "villain" after a series of hard fouls against the Bulls in the first round. The video above gives an idea of what he's talking about; he's yoked Derrick Rose a couple times, in Games 1 and 3, and landed an elbow directly in Luol Deng's face in Game 3. The NBA ruled both Game 3 fouls to be "flagrant 1" hits after the fact, and so Foster stayed in the game and will not be suspended unless he picks up more points during whatever remains of the series (Chicago leads 3-1).


You'll hear the announcer call Foster's hit on Rose a "playoff foul," and Pacers coach Frank Vogel has called them "good, clean playoff fouls." Rose, for his part, called the Foster-Tyler Hansbrough hit "a little irritating" but allowed that "that's [Foster's] job." The "playoff foul" is an established concept: Knock the shit out of the opponent's star player to prevent an easy hoop and send a basic "we will protect this house" message that even the folks in the cheap seats can see. It's established enough that it's something of a scripted scene in the NBA postseason. In fact, there's a good chance it is literally Foster's job, that Vogel had the tabbed the tough vet to hack at Rose in the lane, foul trouble be damned. He is, after all, Jeff Foster.

The playoff foul, scary as it can be, is both acknowledged and respected. Everyone knows about it, and everyone knows it's coming, and as long as no one winds up getting maimed, both players and their teams benefit from the call and from the drama that comes with it. Rose and Deng come home to Chicago tonight with a chip on their shoulder that'll be shared by every Bulls fan who've watched Foster lay siege to their team. Every good series needs a bad guy.

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