Heal rips into Bullets
Complaint a low blow, Dragons coach says
F U M I N G S o u t h Dragons player-coach Shane Heal has slammed National Basketball League club Brisbane as ‘petty’and accused them of launching a personal attack on him.
T h e f o u r - t i m e Olympian unloaded on Brisbane after NBL Commissioner Rick Burton yesterday dismissed a formal complaint from the Bullets about an incident where Heal copped an unsportsmanlike foul for an elbow to rival guard Stephen Black in Wednesday’s match at Vodafone Arena.
‘‘I’m absolutely spewing about it,’’ a furious Heal said yesterday.
‘‘I can’t believe they’d stoop to this level.
‘‘It’s a personal attack from those guys (Brisbane).’’
Heal suggested Brisbane had been stung by comments he made on television last year that they’d under-achieved with all the talent at their disposal.
‘‘Jeff (Bullets general manager J e f f V a n Groningen) and Joey (coach Joey Wright) have obviously taken those comments personally,’’ he said.
‘‘But to come out and say I elbowed him (Black) in the (testicles), which is just wrong, and say I maliciously did that is disgraceful.’’
Wright fired up at the post-game press conference, claiming Heal had aimed his elbow at Black’s groin in a ‘very malicious gesture’.
The club followed up by lodging a complaint with the NBL on Thursday but, after watching the match video, Burton decided Heal had no case to answer.
‘‘Upon viewing the available evidence, we felt that the incident did not warrant a tribunal hearing and that it was handled appropriately by the referees on the night with the issuing of an unsportsmanlike foul as a penalty,’’ Burton said. Heal remained angry. ‘‘It’s a personal attack,’’ said Heal, who played for Brisbane as a teenager in 1988 and again between 1992-95.
‘‘Everyone who saw the incident said the same thing, that the referee was in position and that it deserved a foul and you get on with it.
‘‘Blackie smiled and ran for the free throw line.
‘‘If someone did that to me 10 times, I’d take it every single time and go and hit the free throws.
‘‘The thing that is disappointing to me is I walk into the press conference and say we were taught a basketball lesson and that Brisbane were at a different level to us.
‘‘It’s taken them four and a half years to buy and build the best team in the country to get to this level.’’
Van Groningen said Brisbane had followed procedure in backing their coach and bringing the incident to the NBL’s notice.
‘‘They’ve looked at it and we accept their decision,’’ he said.
WHO, ME? . . . Shane Heal remonstrates with match officials during Wednesday
night’s fiery clash with the Brisbane Bullets at Vodafone Arena
Saturday, December 23, 2006