UPDATE: The league announced that a mistake was made and a foul should have been called.
The Black Mamba strikes again! More specifically, Kobe Bryant struck Ricky Rubio's arm in the act of shooting, which should have sent the Spaniard to the line with a chance to tie up the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and L.A. Lakers and send it to overtime.
* Kobe misses the free throw that would have ended the game by giving the Lakers a 4-point lead.
* Kobe makes no effort to grab the rebound on his own miss, instead holding his follow-up until Rubio collects the carom.
* Kobe lets Rubio race by him before making an attempt to defend.
* Kobe makes up ground as Rubio rises to fire the tying three -- a pretty wild attempt.
* Kobe hacks Rubio's forearm from the front on a reacharound.
* Kobe walks straight into the tunnel as the Target Center explodes in horror.
* Kobe tells reporters:
Kobe on possible foul on last play vs. Rubio: "They're not going to call that s***."— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) March 28, 2013
That was the most obvious foul this side of Kirk Hinrich. There's no guarantee Ricky would have even tied the game (he's a sub-80 percent free throw shooter), and Minnesota would have had no guarantee of winning in overtime. But you can't just let any player -- superstars or plebes alike -- get away with unbelievable hacks like that just because time is running out. It reinforces the idea that there are two rulebooks, and it lets Kobe actually believe "they're not going to call that s***" because it's actually true.
This was an egregious miss by the officials, even by the typical standards of outrage. How does it even happen, with an official standing right there, watching the play? This may be one that the NBA will be forced to acknowledge.