Dahntay Jones and Kobe Bryant have a history of getting in each others way. In a playoff game a few years ago between Jones’ Denver Nuggets and Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers, Jones admittedly tripped Bryant on purpose after growing frustrated with alleged elbows and cheap shots.
Four years later and Jones refuses to accept responsibility this time for an incident he claims was inadvertent. The Atlanta Hawks player has come under fire for a play that took place at the end of a game against the Lakers on Wednesday that resulted in Bryant severely spraining his ankle.
Pro Basketball Talk has the details of an interview the Jones had with SiriusXM’s Mad Dog radio channel 86, where he explained his side.
“After the game I felt bad and heard the responses and things of that nature, that he sprained his ankle. After I turned around on the play I saw that he was hurt and I thought that I did hurt him. We went in the locker room and looked at it and when we looked at it from three different angles it looked as if he came down on the floor but my foot was behind where he came down on. And I didn’t feel him come down on my ankle so I never thought he came down on my foot. And usually when shooters come down on your foot they come down on the top of your foot and that’s how they roll [their] ankle. So I felt bad. That’s why I kept looking at the play to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. And I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. I was trying to contest the jump shot and my job as a defender is to make people uncomfortable and to challenge shots. I had an iso with eight seconds. I was trying to get him to go where I wanted him to. He pulls up and does a fadeaway and his leg kick I ran into and it made him come down awkwardly. That’s how the play went. But I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. It’s very hard to time somebody’s foot, to walk under someone’s foot and do things of that nature when the game is on the line….
“I just wanted to do my job and just try to contest the shot. It was a fadeaway. When guys shoot fadeaways you’re not just supposed to let them go, you’re supposed to keep playing and try and get as close as possible to be able to challenge the shot. I didn’t want to give up on the play. I wanted to make sure I was there so he would at least see me and feel me. I didn’t have a chance to worry about his landing. I didn’t want to hurt him and get in the middle of his landing but I was just trying to contest the shot.”
For what it’s worth I don’t think Jones intentional tried to hurt Kobe, although the Lakers star sees it differently. I don’t think he should be branded as the new Bruce Bowen who did stuff like that repeatedly. I think the loss the loss hurt Kobe more than his ankle does.