Indiana’s Cody Zeller is having an All-American season. He has been the co-MVP on the nation’s best team. He’s averaging 17 and 8 and had a large hand in Indiana’s win over Michigan State in East Lansing Tuesday. Aside from the 17 points and five rebounds weren’t all he contributed.
Watch the next two clips and you’ll see that Zeller is a dirty, cheap player. In the first clip, there was 4:10 left on the clock Tuesday. Zeller deliberately tossed his elbow into MSU center Derrick Nix’s midsection to clear room. Ask Nix how high his voice went.
Now watch the second video. State was up three with two minutes to play. On the surface, this looked like retaliation from Nix. A nutshot for a nutshot. Everybody thought so. Dick Vitale ripped Nix on the spot during the broadcast. “There’s no doubt about it. He catches him with the elbow,” Vitale said, while calling the game alongside former MSU player and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. “See that, Magic? There’s no place for that. No place for that in basketball. Play the game, play with good sportsmanship, play the game. Don’t ruin it because of some stupidity, and some immature action.” The Big Lead called out Nix for being dirty.
BUT LOOK AGAIN. Check out Zeller’s hand on Nix’s forearm guiding Nix’s hand to Zeller’s nether region. It wasn’t Nix being dirty or getting retaliation. It was Zeller trying to con the officials into thinking Nix was retaliating. He’s the dirty one here.
Why did Zeller do this? By hitting Nix first, he tried to get Nix to relatiate. When there was none, Zeller pulled the second stunt to help change the tide. State was on a mini-run and it helped kill the Spartans’ momentum. Also adding wood to the fire was Nix saying that Zeller and Indiana stud Victor Oladipo were overrated days prior.
There’s no debating that Cody Zeller is a good player. But there’s also no debating that there is no place for that in basketball. Play the game, play with good sportsmanship, play the game. Don’t ruin it because of some stupidity, and some immature action. Vitale was absolutely right, except that both his and The Big Lead’s vigor was directed at the wrong player.