David Griffin can expect to find himself writing a check to the NBA after the Pelicans executive blasted the league over the lack of calls for Zion Williamson in the paint, now that the star big man will be out indefinitely with a broken finger.
“Quite frankly, he’s injured because of the open season that there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint,” Griffin said. “He has been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis. … There is more violence on encouraged on him in the paint than any player I’ve seen since [Shaquille O’Neal]. It was egregious and horrific then. The same is true now.”
Griffin stopped short of calling for anyone’s job, as the New York Rangers did with an unsigned team statement this week saying that George Parros is unfit to run the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after Tom Wilson, the league’s most notorious goon, got off with only a $5,000 fine for punching Pavel Buchnevich, and nothing for ending Artemi Panarin’s season.
The Rangers got a $250,000 fine, just as Griffin likely will have a deduction made from his bank account, but that’s where the similarity ends, because the NBA is not stupid, and the NHL is.
Hockey’s response to the Rangers’ rage at their superstar being allowed to be violently attacked with no more than a mere tsk-tsk was, naturally, to look in the mirror and decide to get more violent. Not only did Gary Bettman hit the Rangers with that record fine, but general managers in the league circled the wagons to protect Parros, while Mark Messier launched his campaign to join the Rangers’ front office by saying, “In my opinion, if you’re going to win, you got to be able to win in the street and the alley. I, particularly, would not have built a team that didn’t have the answers in this regard.”
Do you know what’s going to happen when Williamson returns to the Pelicans? The money out of Griffin’s pocket will have been well worth it, because the young superstar will finally start to get superstar calls. The NBA understands the value of its best players being able to perform, and when Griffin said this injury for Williamson was “avoidable,” he meant not only in the past, but going forward.
At no point does anyone suggest that the Pelicans should stop focusing on having good players to get guys who can “win in the street and the alley,” because that would be the dumbest goddamn thing in the world.
But that’s exactly what happens in the NHL.
You thought May 7 was a big day for sports before? Well, Wade Miley added to it with a no-hitter for the Reds, the second time Cleveland has been no-hit already this year. No team has ever been no-hit three times in a single season.