MIAMI – From the time he watched the game-winning basket by LeBron James in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers’ center has found a way to keep things interesting.
It first started on Twitter for Roy Hibbert shortly after Indiana’s last-second overtime loss to the Heat on Wednesday, when he offered to take an answer any questions fans posed to him on his Twitter account-@Hoya2aPacer-while he waited for late-night room service.
It resulted in the Pacers’ center answering a multitude of random questions before his snack arrived.
The next afternoon, Hibbert sent another Tweet from his account that began another storyline in a series that hasn’t lacked for on and off-court drama.
“U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. Ill be there 2protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing,” said Hibbert-and he’s referring to the play early in Game One, long before the debate of him being left on the bench late in overtime began.
As Heat guard Shane Battier drove to the basket, he rose his knee up into Hibbert as he jumped up to the hoop. The center was down for a little bit but got back up and played-but the memory of that hit continued beyond that.
“The reason why I said something because I saw somebody write that it was an inadvertent knee and I was like that’s bull-(expletive),” said Hibbert about his reason for tweeting about the foul as he spoke to a few dozen reporters at Game Two shoot around at American Airlines Arena on Friday afternoon. “He knew what he was doing.”
Battier did not speak to reporters following the Heat’s shoot around earlier Friday morning to give his side of the story-yet it wasn’t the only foul by the Heat that caught the ire of some of the Pacers. Later in the game during the fourth quarter, Miami guard Norris Cole drove around Pacers forward David West and whipped his arm near the groin of David West.
The hit drew an offensive foul and a bit of criticism from teammate Paul George, who won’t buy an argument from the Heat that it was just physical play.
“Hitting someone in the groin, you really don’t get an advantage from that,” said the forward when told the Heat describe the fouls as “Eastern Conference Basketball.” “I could see being over aggressive on a post-up or something like that. But I don’t know, that’s not playoff basketball.”
Oddly enough is was Frank Vogel who chalked up the hits to the physicality of the series, not believing the Heat were out to intentionally hurt his players.
“I just think that’s team’s playing hard,” said Vogel of the fouls. “I don’t think there is anything dirty about this series, it’s just teams playing hard.”
One thing that is uniform among the team is the desire not to retaliate to the fouls with the risk of having a major player thrown out. Hibbert didn’t bring any retribution to Battier nor did West respond to Cole following his foul and the team expects a similar reaction should things turn rough later in the series.
“They don’t ever catch the first guy, the catch the second guy,” said guard George Hill of why retaliation could be bad. “Be focused, be mindful that they’re going to be out there watching and just play basketball.”
Even after the unfortunate meeting with Battier in the first quarter of Game One, Hibbert plans to do the same.
“If he wants to do that, that’s fine,” said Hibbert of Battier. “I’m still going to be there to protect the rim.”