The NBA doesn’t know what a flagrant foul is. Just look at how it distinguishes between a flagrant 1 and a flagrant 2: One is “unnecessary contact” and the other is “unnecessary and excessive contact.” You can’t just append a synonym and pretend that’s a meaningful enforceable distinction. These are the watery concepts at issue here.
But we sure know what isn’t a flagrant foul: the use of an ass against the lower extremities of an opponent to prepare for a rebound. That goes by the simple name of “boxing out.” It’s an act as true and time-tested as hurling a leather-bound ball into a peach basket. Kyle Lowry of the Raptors demonstrated this fundamental act against Magic forward Aaron Gordon in Sunday’s game, and was struck with a flagrant 1 today.
If those cheeks stood half a foot higher, there would be no problems here. Gordon would’ve taken that contact in the mid-thigh, grimaced slightly, and we’d all be moving on with our lives. (Later in the game, Gordon was hurt on an unrelated play, which could not be conceivably blamed on anyone’s can.)
The injustice here couldn’t be starker: A combination of Lowry’s humble height and tremendous wagon has led soft minds to designate an innocent box-out as a violation of norms. You may cry out about Lowry’s history of dirty play, but I’d argue that you are the one doing a “dirty play”—discriminating against a big butt. Don’t impeach the enpeached.