Both the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards played well for most of the season opener on October 27. Although the final score wasn’t particularly tight, it was a close game for most of the evening. However, despite several scoring plays, one of the most intense moments came on a Washington fast break.
In the play, which can be seen in the video below, Kent Bazemore fouled John Wall to prevent an easy layup. While that in itself is fairly common, Bazemore appeared to undercut Wall and cause him to hit the ground hard.
John Wall exchanges words with Kent Bazemore after being undercut on a transition dunk. #WizardsTalk pic.twitter.com/W218aBHuOB— CSN Wizards (@CSNWizards) October 28, 2016
Wall clearly was unhappy with the play, and he and Bazemore had to be separated right after it. The officials awarded Bazemore with a flagrant foul, sending Wall to the free-throw line.
Undoubtedly, Bazemore should have either gotten out of the way or found a way to avoid sending Wall to the floor. The play looked malicious in real time, and it’s hard to argue with the flagrant foul awarded.
However, on the other hand, there’s nothing to suggest that Bazemore was trying to actually hurt Wall. Additional replay speeds and angles support this, showing that Wall fell to the floor because of an awkward foul angle, not because of any malicious intent.
Bazemore is also known as someone of good character around the league, and it’s difficult to imagine him ever trying to intentionally injure another team’s star. That being said, though, he was still responsible for the foul and admitted as much in a tweet the next morning.
This game has done wayyyy too much for me to play it that way. I've been undercut and it's not a fun feeling. My apologies bro @JohnWall— Scot Harvath (@24Bazemore) October 28, 2016
It’s obviously very encouraging to see Bazemore make a public apology like this. There seems to be little risk of one incident like this hurting his reputation (especially lacking proof that he was trying to injure Wall), but his willingness to admit wrong is important on its own.
At the end of the day, nobody got hurt, and both teams should be able to move on from this incident.