DALLAS: Cavs guard Daniel Gibson fired away at the Atlanta Hawks’ Dahntay Jones this morning, calling the play in which he injured Kobe Bryant a “dirty play” and inferred that Jones is a dirty player.
“I think that was a dirty play,” Gibson said. “He’s been known to be a guy to do that.”
Gibson has been one of the few outspoken players most of this season about the rule designed to protect shooters. Defenders aren’t allowed to step into a shooter’s landing space and instead are supposed to give them the opportunity to land safely.
Jones stepped under Bryant while contesting his fadeaway jumper in the final seconds Wednesday night. Bryant landed on Jones’ foot and severely sprained his ankle. Bryant thought a foul should’ve been called and the league agreed, announcing on Thursday a foul should’ve been called on Jones for preventing Bryant from landing cleanly.
“If you watch the tape, after the shot was taken, he kept walking forward toward him,” Gibson said Friday. “He never really turned around to see if the shot went in or anything. He kept walking toward him looking at the ground the whole time.”
Gibson admitted this is a sore subject for him because his season was cut short last year when he injured his ankle on a similar play. Gibson landed on the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George following a shot and tore a tendon in his foot. He needed surgery to repair the tear and said Friday his foot still isn’t right.
But there’s more: Jones played with George on the Pacers last season.
“When I saw (Bryant’s injury), it (ticked) me off because (Jones) was on the team with Paul George last year," Gibson said. "Rumor has it, he taught (George) a few tricks.”
Cavs coach Byron Scott wouldn’t comment on the play because he has already said plenty about Jones.
“I’m not goig to comment on Dahntay Jones and some of his antics he does on the basketball court,” Scott said Friday. “Me and him got into it a couple of years ago anyway. We’ll leave it at that.”
When Jones was with the Denver Nuggets in 2009 and Scott was coaching the New Orleans Hornets, he took exception with the way Jones was defending Hornets star Chris Paul in a playoff series.
“I can appreciate anybody that plays hard, but when you get to the point where you’re being a little dirty, that’s the thing that kind of aggravates me,” Scott said four years ago. “When you get to the point where you’re being a little dirty then I don’t appreciate that – and I don’t respect it.”
Because of his injury last year, Gibson has been one of the few voices to protest the way defenders step into shooters’ landing areas. It was considered a point of emphasis during the preseason and officials were supposed to keep a closer eye on it, but Gibson said he hasn’t seen any changes from years past. Now that it has affected one of the game’s elite stars, perhaps that will change.
“It’s a very dangerous play,” Gibson said. “You’re vulnerable. There’s nothing you can do besides land. When you start worrying about it, that’s when you start missing shots and that’s what the defender is trying to do – make you think about landing and where you’re coming down.”