Clearly, a big win tonight. Sadly, a lot of the focus for the next few games will be over Darius Songaila's punch/slap/whatever you want to call it. There's a few people who think he will end up getting suspended for Game 6, but before Stu Jackson puts down his ruling, hopefully he considers the following evidence...
First, let's take a look at the video (WARNING: Contains excessive amounts of Reggie Miller):
Now, I'll admit when I first saw it that I was pretty scared for a few reasons. among them:
- I'm not sure I want to live in a world where this man is a violent person.
- If he would've been ejected on the spot and the Wizards had gone on to lose the game, that would've been the bizarre exclamation point on a bizarre series.
- The last thing we need is Jay-Z trying to rhyme Songaila with something.
Thankfully, the last 2 didn't happen and I don't think #1 is true either. Maybe it's my blue and gold colored glasses, but I don't think the "punch" was deliberately malicious, and I have evidence to back it up, in the form screencapping goodness (click on the image for the full size image).
Here's where it starts to go down, LeBron is making a drive to the hoop and you can see that he and Darius' arms are starting to tangle, with LeBron's elbow under Songaila's arm.
Now we've moved forward and you can see that they've managed to get themselves in a nice little tangle here. It's nothing intentional on either side, it's just basketball.
Fast forwarding a little more (in a half-a-second later kind of way) we can see them starting to untangle themselves, with the problem still being that LeBron's arm is wrapped around Darius' arm. Even if this was square dancing, this still would be a pretty awkward arrangement, as if having two 6'9" guys crash your square dance wasn't awkward enough.
As you can see, we've got a little more separation but their arms are still intertwined with LeBron's arm under Songaila's. Naturally, when you've got an arm resting on top of yours, your reaction is to lift your arm up because eventually you'll be able to get that arm off of you if you reach up high enough. In the next cap you can see LeBron doing just that:
Now you can start to see where it's all going wrong. Because of their awkward positioning, LeBron's natural instinct to raise his hands up is sending Songaila's arm right into his face. I think you all know what happens next.
If you notice in the video, the only ones that really seem to get riled up about the whole thing are the players and coaches that weren't involved. Darius is more focused on trying to explain his case to the refs and LeBron is making sure that all of his teeth are still in. Don't you think that if Songaila had intentionally punched him that maybe they'd exchange words or dirty looks or something?
Hopefully that convinced you that the hit wasn't intentional. If it didn't, just remember that Darius is an exceptionally generous man.