A Gentle Giant

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: December 28, 2009

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — Whoever has to guard Houston Rocket forward and leading sixth man candidate Carl Landry on a nightly basis is lucky he has an easygoing demeanor.

He was raised that way.

So you don’t expect Landry to retaliate after catching an elbow from Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki.

But if that was someone like forwards Ron Artest, Kevin Garnett or Kendrick Perkins, it would have been about two blows to the head.

With nine minutes and 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter in the December 18th game at Dallas, Nowitzki drove to the basket. His right elbow connected with five of Landry’s teeth, which were chipped or broken.

Nowitzki needed stitches after parts of Landry’s teeth were lodged in the elbow. Landry went to the emergency room for five hours of surgery. He scored 27 points four days later in the 108-99 win at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“As a kid, I dreamed about playing this game,” he said after the L.A. game. “Nobody’s gonna stop me from playing this game. A couple of teeth is not gonna sit me out.”

I felt bad for Landry, who grew up in an apostolic church in Milwaukee. His grandfather, a pastor, probably would have told him to turn the other cheek.

It was shocking that Landry was in good spirits after the hard elbow shot. I didn’t hear Nowitzki apologize for the blow, even though Landry was called for the foul.

And some of Nowitzki’s teammates worried if he would miss some games.

The collision wasn’t classified as a cheap shot to Landry, who’s black, by Nowitzki, a white player.

I recalled at least two incidents where a white NBA player was punched in the face by a black player.

Kent Benson, in his first NBA game with the Milwaukee Bucks, elbowed the L.A. Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Hall of Famer threw a right hook to Benson and broke his hand, missing 20 games.

The most memorable incident involved another Laker teammate, Kermit Washington. He was involved in a fight on the court. Houston’s Rudy Tomjanovich ran towards the fight. Washington hit Tomjanovich with a roundhouse that fractured Tomjanovich’s face.

“Rudy T” missed the rest of the season. Washington was suspended for 60 days and 26 games.

Tomjanovich later received $3.2 million from the Lakers organization.

Neither of them will ever forget that situation.

Both incidents happened in 1977.

It’s all good with Landry.

He was all smiles with new teeth.

But what if he didn’t turn the other cheek….