In the second quarter of Monday night's fantastic triple-overtime thriller between the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, Mavs guard Delonte West decided it would be a good idea to shove his finger into the ear of Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward. That's definitely normal and not at all weird, so it's odd that our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute felt like it was worth highlighting in Tuesday morning's rundown of Monday night's top stories.
The fans at Utah's EnergySolutions Arena seemed to think it was weird, too, and they didn't much care for Delonte's goof, chanting for the officiating crew to "throw him out" after the play, according to Lynn DeBruin of The Associated Press. West stayed in the game but did receive a technical foul on the play, and may be subject to a fine from the league office.
Jazz partisans probably should have chilled out, though; as West told reporters after the game, he was just trying to help Hayward's hygiene. Well, either that or bully him. From Jeff Caplan at ESPN Dallas:
Delonte West joked that he was only trying to get some lint out of Gordon Hayward's hair and then West said he was actually going in to deliver a Wet Willie. [...]
West said there's no hard feelings toward the Utah Jazz forward after West lost his cool late in the second quarter. West aggressively and unnecessarily flung his arm at Hayward well away from the ball to pick up his third foul with 3:40 to go in the first half. After the whistle, West followed Hayward and suddenly poked his index finger in the vicinity of Hayward's ear.
Glad to hear that Delonte has no hard feelings toward the person he aggressively/unnecessarily flung his arm at and then poked in the ear. (Also, wet Willies involve saliva pre-ear-stick, so this one ain't that.) You could definitely see why he'd harbor some resentment toward Gordon Hayward for having an innate quality that just makes Delonte West want to bully him. Something about his face, probably. Totally reasonable, and a great thing to be able to put behind us.
More from West's postgame comments, via Caplan:
"We're two warriors, man, we're out there battling on the battlefield," West said. "I forgot, the NBA is a gentleman's game so we've got to fight and scrap and do it nicely. Everything is left on the court, though. That's what it is."
Yeah, that's right. This ain't your granny's PB-and-J-with-the-crusts-cut-off brand of basketball, and it's definitely not your Earl of Grantham's full-morning-dress-oh-we-must-support-Mary-this-courting-season style of hoops, you square-back-and-sides feeb.
This is the NBA. It's a battle for warriors who stick their fingers in one another's ears. It's prison rules. Or, at least, fourth-grade schoolyard rules. Is that too extreme for you? Then you better just fall back. It's like that famous saying: If you can't stand the finger in your ear, stay off of the basketball court. It's as true today as it was when we were all taught it when we were children, because it is a real thing that we were all taught.
Oh, by the way, Utah outlasted Dallas in a 63-minute triple-overtime epic, 123-121, that brought the Jazz (32-30) within a half-game of the Phoenix Suns for the Western Conference's final playoff spot and dropped the Mavs (34-28) into the seventh seed, a half-game back of the Denver Nuggets. Hayward was critical for the Jazz, scoring 24 points on 14 shots, dishing five assists, grabbing four rebounds and hitting four 3-pointers in more than 54 minutes for coach Ty Corbin. West had 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting in just under 27 minutes for the Mavs.
One more thing: Hey, Dallas? Stop being gross. Between West's Willie and Vince Carter blowing his burp breath at Rudy Gay, you are becoming the nastiest team in the league, and not in a good "Bad Boys Pistons" kind of way. It's not a good look, friends.