The NBA has suspended Hedo Turkoglu for Sunday's game against Indiana. Turkoglu received a technical foul in the fourth quarter of Thursday's win over the Bulls for making contact with an official. While a silly technical foul, it did not seem to be too egregious.
All Turkoglu did was extend his hand out and make brief contact with the referee. It was likely pretty harmless and done with zero negative intent. But, by the letter of the law, it violated the NBA's no-contact rule with referees. A suspension had to be handed down, even if it seems silly.
This potentially leaves the Magic without both Turkoglu and Jason Richardson for Sunday's game. Richardson bumped knees with Jameer Nelson on a late possession causing both to go to the floor in pain. Nelson returned to the game, Richardson did not. He needed assistance to leave the floor, but was relieved to learn the extent of the injury Friday.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Richardson merely suffered a left ankle sprain and not the season-ending injury he feared when he went down.
That is certainly good news for the Magic, even if they have to be without the two for Sunday's game. Ultimately, Turkoglu and Richardson could use the time off just to let their bodies recovery. Both have used time off in the past this season to recover and have come back stronger because of it. Consider it unplanned time off. Ultimately it could help.
Turning back to the suspension though, the innocuousness of the contact and how little was involved in it just makes the one-game suspension that much more confusing. It reminds me of an incident that happened earlier this year and could serve as something of a lesson in globalization, so to speak.
In late January during a game between the Lakers and Clippers, Chris Paul became extremely upset that Pau Gasol tapped the top of his head during a stoppage in play. It was more of a pet or a "my bad" tap rather than anything aggressive or hurtful. Paul was still upset though and told Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times:
"Don't touch the top of my head like I'm one of your kids. I don't know what his intention was, I don't know if he's got kids, but I'm not one of them. I'll treat him like little Chris."
To which Gasol responded:
"I'm sorry he felt that way. I do that all of the time with my teammates. It's OK, it's like if I touch your shoulder or your back. Nothing mean mean about it."
It seemed like this was a case of an action getting lost in translation. There might have been so existing bad blood between the Laker and Clipper rivals, but this seemed relatively friendly and normal for Gasol. It might have been unusual to Paul though.
The issue of "touching" is something of a cultural one. Watch a soccer game, and you will see Europeans embracing and touching the face and head of opponents in seemingly affectionate ways much more often. This is commonplace among teammates and peers.
This is not the case in America where is is something of an invasion of space or something like that.
That is why it is easy to understand why Turkoglu did what he did. He was not touching the referee in some offensive or mean way, but doing something that culturally seemed natural to him.
This sounds like an excuse -- and it probably is. Turkoglu and Gasol have been in the league long enough to understand NBA and American cultural norms. Certainly that late in the game, Turkoglu should have kept his head more and avoided picking up such a blatant and silly technical foul (in such a critical moment too).
The cultural aspect is just some food for thought. I do not know Turkoglu's intent or what he was thinking at that moment.
The Magic though will have to press on without Turkoglu on Sunday. There is no point in arguing the suspension. The rule is what it is, and it is not changing.