Not Letting Go
Now Bill Laimbeer's not letting go, either.
In the afterglow of Detroit's stunning Game 3 rout of the Fever, the Shock head coach did not have to be pressed for his thoughts on the WNBA's amended ruling on the Game 2 sequence that has sidelined Pierson with a dislocated right shoulder and a torn labrum. He called it "pathetic."
Their arms tangled while positioning for a fourth-quarter rebound Sunday, Hoffman bent Pierson's arms behind her back before releasing her. In evident pain, the 2007 Sixth Woman of the Year crashed to the floor, where she remained until helped off the floor by trainer Laura Ramus.
At the time referees called a double-technical foul on both players, and the Fever took possession because Katie Smith's 3-point try was good. Hoffman remained in the game and twice made go-ahead 3-pointers in Indiana's 89-82 victory.
Monday evening the league revised the call, rescinding the technical against Pierson and calling Hoffman for a flagrant-2, which under league guidelines would make a player eligible to be suspended. Hoffman, however, was only fined.
In Laimbeer's version of events, it took extraordinary lengths for the league to take the disciplinary action even that far. The league had prepared to issue a less-severe flagrant-1 foul until the Shock medical staff informed them as to the extent of Pierson's injury.
The Shock took issue with several decisions made Sunday and Monday, including the assumption of culpability on the part of Pierson, who they knew would be a lightning rod for controversy after serving a four-game suspension for confronting the Sparks' Candace Parker July 22.
But the reluctance to defend Pierson by issuing a harsher penalty to Hoffman particularly infuriated Laimbeer, who spoke of how he and assistant coach Rick Mahorn fumed all Monday night leading up to Game 3. That rage and sense of disrespect filtered down to his players, who were unrelenting as they built a 41-10 lead Tuesday.
"I think they had it also and they came out with it," Laimbeer said. "And when they come out with it like that, talent takes over, and we play spectacular basketball."
The league may have done the Shock a favor by not suspending Hoffman, who was named the league's Most Improved Player before Game 1. Clearly rattled by the negative attention, Hoffman - who had 19 and 15 points in the first two games, respectively - went scoreless for the first time all season. She went 0-for-6 from the field and shot only once after halftime.
Hoffman's subpar performance was no consolation for Laimbeer. The Shock head coach and general manager said this incident has the franchise taking stock of their how they're perceived around the WNBA.
"I believe we're taking a hard look at how we're treated and who we are," he said. "It was a defining moment for a lot of people in this building, of 'Why do they treat us that way?'"
And it gave us extra motivation, yeah. But still, in this particular incident, the league was wrong."