For those not paying attention to every moment of every Phoenix Suns game late this season, there was yet another instance of an opposing player trying to punk Suns point guard Goran Dragic.
I can count on more than one hand, maybe even more than two hands, the number of times opponents have tried to get into the head of Dragic this season and in his first 2+ years with the Suns.
He is not the biggest player on the team, and certainly not the most muscle-bound. He's a small kid on a big man's playground.
Some of those have been flagrant attempts to get Dragic off his game, to send a statement to him and the Suns that the Suns are exactly what their reputation says they are: soft. That's exactly what happened Wednesday night, when Blake Griffin stood over Dragic, straddling him after a foul. And it happened later in the same game when Ryan Hollins wrapped his arm around Dragic's neck and dragged him across the court.
"Maybe that was the plan - to try to get me frustrated," Dragic said after the game. "Blake does this kind of thing a lot. It's not the first time. He didn't step on me. He just stood over me."
P.J. Tucker eventually came over after a few seconds to push Griffin off of Dragic.
Then later, it was Hollins trying to punk Dragic, even with a 25 point lead in the 4th quarter. Dragic tried to get off, but couldn't against the bigger player.
"You have to stand for yourself and get separated," Dragic said. "Michael [Beasley] helped and separated us. I feel sorry for him because he got ejected. He was a true teammate and he helped me. I would do the same thing. It's hard when the big guy is going against a point guard."
Sure enough, while Tucker and Jermaine O'Neal (the Suns 'toughest' guys) barked at Hollins and O'Neal tried to slip his arm in there, no one forcibly separated the two until Michael Beasley did. Check out that link above, on the first mention of the Hollins foul. Beasley did the dirty work.
Yeah, THAT Beasley. The one who calls himself B-Easy and Easy Street. It was Michael Beasley who had separate them, and then keep pushing Hollins away until Hollins' own teammate Lamar Odom finished the job.
"He choked Gogi," Beasley said of Hollins' foul on Dragic. "These guys in this locker room are my family. They're my brothers. You're not going to choke my brother and sit there and smile about it. I feel like the only reason he did that was because it was Gogi. He's bigger than Gogi.
"I'd do it a million times," he continued. "I'd do it for anyone in this locker room. That's not right to do anybody. You want to pick on somebody, I got a 7-footer to my right (O'Neal) that likes that kind of stuff. Don't pick on our smallest guys and then to put him in a headlock and hold it for five minutes? I just wanted to get him off Gogi and he threw his fists up at me. That's when the situation got heated."
There was a shoving match after Beasley separated them, and Beasley didn't back down.
My problem, or it might be better to "concern", is this: why did it take several seconds for ANYONE to separate Hollins from Dragic's neck?
Like I said earlier, this isn't the first time Dragic has been hit hard on a foul this season, and it's not the first time in his career it's happened either.
Dragic keeps a cool head in those situations, preferring to beat them on the basketball court later in the game rather than beat them with his fists. Goran has a reputation of getting back at players who punk him by doing it in a basketball sense.
I can't place it specifically, but I know there was at least one other time in Dragic's first Suns stint - with a whole different roster - that he was laid out, or stood over, and no one came to his aid then either. Not at first.
Why is it that basketball players are so averse to fighting, or defending their brethren?
Jermaine O'Neal got in there, but for some reason didn't push hard enough to get them apart. P.J. Tucker barked at Hollins, as did Jared Dudley. But they didn't step up like Beasley did.
I applaud Michael Beasley for defending Goran Dragic. He has raised his reputation a few notches in my book.