Bryant assessed flagrant foul for elbow in Philly

Updated: March 12, 2007, 3:45 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is not and was not at risk for another suspension after elbowing Philadelphia's Kyle Korver.

League sources told ESPN.com that the incident was reviewed strictly to determine whether Bryant would be retroactively assessed a flagrant foul after his left elbow connected with Korver in L.A.'s 108-92 road defeat Friday night.

That review, sources said, was completed Monday and reclassified the hit as a Flagrant 1 foul, Bryant's first flagrant foul of the season.

In his first game back from a one-game suspension after landing an elbow to the face of Minnesota's Marko Jaric, Bryant extended his elbow as he tried to dribble away from Korver on the perimeter. No foul was called on the play.

The league does reserve the right to reclassify fouls or non-calls as flagrant fouls following a video review. But if this incident had been subject to a possible suspension,

NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson would have rendered a ruling before the Lakers' next game. Bryant was cleared to play in their 108-72 home loss to Dallas on Sunday night.

Yet he remains under close scrutiny, in the media and from the league office, after receiving a pair of one-game suspensions in 2007 for stray elbows.

In both of those cases -- first with San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, then with Jaric -- Bryant made contact by flailing his arms after a shot attempt. No foul was called by game officials on the Ginobili play; Bryant was whistled for an offensive foul after catching Jaric.

"As players, we know during a game when someone is trying to hurt you or be mean, and I never thought that was what was happening," Jaric told ESPN.com last week. "So I'm really surprised by [the suspension]. I haven't seen the replay, but if you ask me what I thought about the play when it happened, I don't think he did it intentionally, and I don't think players should be suspended for things that happen unintentionally. I think he was trying to draw a foul, and he swung his hand out to make it look dramatic, and he hit me by accident. He apologized right after."

Korver offered similar sentiments to the Philadelphia Daily News in response to Friday's incident, saying: "I didn't think it was that big a deal. I thought it was an offensive foul. After I saw it on replay, it looked a lot worse than I thought it was during the game. It all happens fast. It's no big deal. It's just part of the game."

Even though the Korver play has been deemed a flagrant foul, Bryant is not in immediate danger of being suspended based on accumulation of flagrant-foul points.

Players receive one point for a Flagrant 1 foul and two points for a Flagrant 2 two, with suspensions starting when a player's total exceeds five points. Yet in spite of his two suspensions, Bryant's total now sits at one point.

Following the Jaric incident, which occurred just over a month after Bryant's tangle with Ginobili, Jackson told ESPN.com: "We considered suspending [Bryant] for multiple games. ... If this happens again, most likely, there will be multiple games.

"Since I've been here, I've not seen this type of conduct exhibited by a player -- driving his arm backwards and making contact above the shoulder -- I have not seen that."

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics