Griffin and the Clippers give as good as they get — Chris Paul himself was suspended for a 2005 ACC quarterfinal game for hitting North Carolina State star Julius Hodge where it hurts — but that's no excuse. This was a low blow. A cheap shot. A strike that Ibaka will have to work long to overcome, if he cares about his good name.
Of course, pro basketball game is a nasty game. This isn't what the good Dr. Naismith had in mind. Not by a longshot. All kinds of unspeakables are done and said in the heat of battle. Watch Nick Collison or Perk drag themselves to their locker after a game, and you know they've been doing more than running wind sprints.
It's a physical game that sometimes crosses the line. Heck, during summer break 2010, then-Thunder center Nenad Krstic — Nenad Krstic! — got arrested for throwing a chair during a Serbia-Greek game.
You win big in the NBA with talent, yes, but also with grit and guile and not a small dose of mean. Truth is, the Thunder has been on the mean side since the day two years ago when Perkins arrived.
The Thunder's popularity hasn't waned because of it. It's just a different kind of popular. And in many ways, the Thunder will remain America's Team, basketball-version.
But these angels have dirty faces now, and that's not likely to change.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.