Sam Smith: An "eye for an eye" mindset is not the answer after the Grayson Allen foul

The NBA announced on Sunday that Bucks guard Grayson Allen would be suspended for one game for his flagrant foul on Alex Caruso.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later


Friday when Bulls guard Alex Caruso suffered a fractured wrist and malefactor Grayson Allen was ejected for a flagrant foul that the NBA ruled Sunday deserved a suspension, albeit one game, there came a torrent of emotion.

Some fans and media suggested the Bulls needed to add an enforcer type player to the team. You know, get him! Certainly some eye for an eye retribution when the Bucks are in Chicago March 4.

We're not letting them take out our guy and not have the pay for it.

Retaliation for an attack on one of ours.

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love." -Martin Luther King Jr.

"In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace." -Martin Luther Ling Jr.

" Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude." -Martin Luther King Jr.

"Let no man pull you so low as to hate him." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Good advice for the games.

Sports is said to be fun and games, but it also carries sober emotions. We all hurt for Caruso for the injury that could keep him out months. He certainly loves to play, his glee barely contained just to be in the game Friday after a month away with injuries and virus issues.

Certainly among the Bulls, the aggrieved, there's no debate about the intentions and character of Bucks guard Allen, who savagely (Bulls view) took Caruso out of the air on a dunk attempt, forcing the hard fall and resultant diagnosis. Though you also shake your head with admiration about Caruso, who decided he wasn't seriously hurt, continued to play, took a turn defending Giannis Antetokounmpo and made a big shot in the Bulls late comeback attempts.

You root for people like that, and you weep for their misfortune.

The Bucks, predictably, issued a statement saying they disagreed with the league action because Allen was making a play on the ball and apparently inadvertently followed through to force down Caruso. Though Allen never tried to speak with Caruso afterward, Allen said Saturday his laughing on camera afterward wasn't connected to the incident, but something someone said away from the court. Look, teams close ranks. The thin green line in Milwaukee. It doesn't mean it's right.

When Dennis Rodman head butted an official during a game and was suspended six games, the Bulls were furious and said it could have been maybe a game or two, if that. Hey, it was just a referee. Outside the arena, Rodman probably would have been jailed.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan probably knows Bulls history better than some.

He was uncharacteristically pointed and indignant after the game, condemning Allen's actions and effectively calling for a suspension even after the flagrant foul 2 ejection. Donovan appropriately noted such actions had possible career ending consequences.

But perhaps Donovan also understands that the best revenge is, yes, living well, but also success.

The Bulls struggled with this concept for several years in the late 1980s trying to defeat the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons. The Pistons in a less rigorously enforced NBA era would take driving Bulls players out of the air a few times every game. Charles Oakley and coach Doug Collins got into a memorable brawl against Pistons during one game, Michael Jordan objected to the trade for Bill Cartwright because he didn't want to lose Oakley to fight Pistons and John Paxson and Isiah Thomas went at it often.

And then the Bulls finally knew they'd won when they didn't fight back.

Just on the court.

Late in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals. Rodman smashed Pippen in the head and threw him into the stands. Pippen merely picked himself up, strolled to the free throw line and added to the Pistons deficit. They were finally beaten, and soon walking off the court before the end of the game. They never beat the Bulls again.

Emotions still were raw Sunday among Bulls players.

"The play that Grayson Allen made has no place in basketball." Nikola Vucevic said after the loss to the Magic. "Very dirty play. He definitely did not go for the ball. He's obviously known for that and has a history of doing that in college. It's unfortunate because (Caruso) did get seriously hurt and it's his shooting hand as well. The injury, how much it impacts us, obviously the way we look at it is it should be punishable more than just one game. We lose a player for two or three months, possibly. He missed one game. You can't compare it unless he'd get suspended for three months, which he obviously is not."

Donovan speaking prior to the game before the one-game suspension was announced said, "I've said what I've said and tried to move on; it's out of my control The best thing we can do as a team is just move on. That's really the only thing we have control over. Whatever that decision is, that's the league's decision and we'll accept it. I feel bad for Alex that he's gonna be out this long more so than anything else. Maybe if he didn't break it and fell down and was able to get back up and play tonight people would maybe have different feelings. But, for me, I can't waste any time on that. My conversations (with the NBA), they were great. I respect whatever decision they feel is best for the entire league.

"I totally get and understand teammates supporting another player; that's the right thing to do and they should do that," added Donovan. "To the part of trying to get back and that stuff, I'm not a big believer in that. I understand there's a player code of conduct and things like that, but we have to worry about what we have to do to put ourselves in the best position to win. We'll play them again and I'm sure there'll be emotions in the game, but…the guys we have here, they are just trying to do what they have to do to have a successful season."

Which would be the best revenge of all.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.


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