I tweeted this out earlier in the week, but as it's still generating some chatter it's worth posting here, as well.
With about 3:30 remaining in the first quarter of Game 2 during the 2000 NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant elevated for a jumper on the right wing, guarded by Indiana's Jalen Rose. He landed on Rose's foot and turned an ankle, forcing Bryant to the sidelines for the evening and in Game 3, as well.
For a long time, the injury could be chalked up as just one of those things. Or not.
On his Grantland podcast, Rose admitted there was nothing random about the play -- "I think I did it on purpose," he said. "I can't say it was accident." -- and that in the process he violated one of the great unwritten rules of basketball, namely Thou Shalt Not Stick Thou's Leg Underneath a Jumpshooter. It's just too dangerous. "You can break someone's ankle," Rose says.
Given that we're talking about something happening 13 Finals ago, given the Lakers won anyway, and given, as Rose notes, the karmic scales were balanced in rather epic fashion eight years later when when Bryant torched Rose and his Toronto Raptors for 81 points, the admission isn't worth all that much righteous indignation. Still, it's interesting to hear Rose pull back the curtain. It also reinforces something most fans know, but don't necessarily like to talk about:
Professional athletes will, generally speaking, do whatever it takes to win.
Most (though definitely not all) draw the line at intentionally injuring an opponent -- some taboos are too strong to subvert -- but nearly everything else is fair game. On a larger scale, it's one reason PEDs will always be a problem in sports. On a smaller one, it's why guys clutch, grab, drop a well-placed elbow, squeeze a man's unmentionables, and flop (among other things).
Here's the clip of Rose's show, if you haven't seen it.