I started playing basketball when I was 8. As a young child, I became infatuated with the game. I continued to play into my late thirties, stopping only when I was seriously injured.  I experienced other injuries over the years, but they were caused by unforeseen circumstances. A defensive player makes a move on the player with the ball and something goes wrong.

I broke my right pinky more than once, as I made a move to steal the basketball. I was accidentally struck in the face as I tried to take the ball away from my opponent on his blind side.  As I did, the man with the ball turned into my path. We collided hard and fell to the floor.

My most severe injury had to do with a broken wrist. I ran the full length of the court with the ball. A defender tried to stop me as I drove to the basket. He mis-timed his jump. He landed at my feet and I somersaulted over him. I fractured my left wrist when I hit the wall behind the basket.   When you play the game with all of your energy and strength, things can go wrong, even with the best of intentions.

What does this have to do with law enforcement?   What should be done if the game of basketball is used to deliberately attack and strike others with a severe injury highly likely?  Watch the video of a basketball game linked below.  Connell High School in Washington State (in the white) is playing Highland High School (in the crimson uniforms). What you see?


Police officers constantly take on the role of protecting life and property. I cannot look away from this incident. Policing has no true authority in this matter, but the pen is mightier than the sword.  Police officers maintain a very active presence coaching youth sport throughout America. This incident makes me thankful to all those who give their time to appropriately communicate, interact, and connect with juveniles.

What message do we send when a defensive player is patted on his buttocks by a referee after the player threw an opponent to the floor where he momentarily laid motionless? In my day on the court, such a reassuring gesture meant don’t worry about it, good hustle, or nice play!   I don’t think so!

When does basketball court behavior rise to the level of assault?  I think we just about reached it here.