Less than a week departed from the good news of his contract becoming guaranteed for the 2021-22 season, Chimezie Metu has received some bad news from the league office. Following an incident on Sunday’s Summer League against the Dallas Mavericks, the big man was handed a one-game suspension. This decision forces the Sacramento Kings to play in the Summer League Championship game without their starting big man.
As you’ve almost certainly seen by now, Metu is receiving this suspension as a result of the punch he threw at Eugene Omoruyi‘s head near the end of a blowout victory over Dallas. As Metu drove to the hoop for a dunk, Omorouyi placed himself in position to hard foul and send Metu sprawling to the floor. This understandably caused a great deal of frustration for Metu and resulted in a rare instance of fists being thrown on the court. Following the scuffle, both players were assessed fouls and ejected from the game.
Now, I don’t necessarily condone this behavior, perhaps a hard shove would have sufficed. But can you really blame him? Especially when you take into consideration Metu’s NBA career was put in jeopardy on an injury suffered by a similarly hard foul on a dunk attempt over Jonas Valanciunas.
That infamous moment shed a light on just how risky these dirty fouls can be for a player fighting for his spot in the league. Metu managed to keep his cool on the much harder foul by Valanciunas, so perhaps this incident was the result of built-up frustration from his past experiences. It’s likely even more aggravating being the victim of a dirty foul when it happens during an ultimately meaningless Summer League game.
Chimezie Metu should probably be given a pass by Sacramento Kings fans, despite throwing a punch in Sunday night’s exhibition game against Dallas.
The initial justification on Omoruyi’s is as follows, “Why is Metu trying to showboat and run up the score with an 18-point lead and only 3 minutes left? That’s bad sportsmanship.”
Honestly, I think that point of view is a bunch of [expletive] and just disrespectful to Metu. What Omoruyi did could have seriously injured someone, what Metu attempted to do would have only injured Omoruyi’s feelings. That sort of behavior should not be tolerated in any instance, exhibition game or not.
Furthermore, Metu actually had a reason to be running up the score. Because of the Summer League’s new rules, the top two teams advance to the championship game. In the case of a tiebreaker scenario, the team with the highest point differential advances. Since four teams finished with a perfect undefeated record, it came down to point differential to decide who advances.
Boston easily made the championship game with a +21.0 differential, but there was an incredibly tight race between Sacramento (+13.8), Minnesota (+12.8), and New Orleans (+11.5) for that final spot. If Metu had not been playing with a mindset to increase the lead as much as possible, it’s very likely Minnesota snatches that spot in the championship game.
Unfortunately, the Sacramento Kings will have to make do without their big man in the championship game now, thanks in large part to the Omoruyi playing dirty en route to his team’s fourth consecutive loss. At the very least, the silver lining here is that Metu displayed toughness and a willingness to defend oneself that this team has severely lacked. Let’s hope this attitude proves infectious and carries over to the rest of the squad this season.