Another flagrant call has Sullinger contemplating 'adjustment'

Another flagrant call has Sullinger contemplating 'adjustment'
January 9, 2014, 2:30 am
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Jared Sullinger has racked up five flagrant foul points in less than half a season, including one called against him for the foul on Clippers' Blake Griffin on Wednesday night.

(USA Today Sports Images)

Jared Sullinger has a problem.

A big one.

And it has nothing to do with left hand injury or being relegated to playing behind Kris Humphries.

He is a physical player, something the Celtics desperately need.

But the line that exists between being physical enough and being too physical, is blurred right now for players, fans and the media who recall a time not so long ago when hard fouls were the rule and not the exception.

When you look at the replay of the flagrant call on the foul Sullinger committed against Blake Griffin, it's unlikely that the league will rescind this one.

"When I first saw it, I thought he [Sullinger] tried to pull back at the end," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "But they (officials) told me he got him [Griffin] on the neck prior to that. They felt comfortable with it and that's their call."

We're not even at the halfway point of the season and Sullinger has already racked up five flagrant foul points.

That does not include the one he had rescinded on Wednesday afternoon that was replaced by the one he picked up on the Griffin play Wednesday night.

Yeah, they're coming in THAT fast!

The next flagrant he picks up, and that's assuming the last one won't be rescinded, will result in him being suspended at least one game this season.

And for those who think he's not going to pick up another one between now and the end of the season, you are only fooling one person - yourself.

Following the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, Sullinger had the look and sound of a man confused by the rash of flagrant fouls called against him.

"It's part of the game," Sullinger told reporters when asked about the flagrant fouls. "I just have to adjust. I tried to wrap him up ... I guess I got to make another adjustment."

And that's what makes this all such a sad narrative.

Sullinger is gaining the reputation of being a bruiser, a thug in high tops which is so not who he is as a player or as a person.

Sadly, it's only going to get worst for him.

You can bet that flop-a-palooza will be alive and well when players are hit with any kind of force by Sullinger, forcing officials to either call what they saw or call what his reputation calls for.

It's wrong, obviously.

But it happens all the time in the NBA.

In only his second season, Sullinger has already caught the attention of officials who will be watching him closer than they do other players for flagrant fouls .

But there's no need to feel sorry for him.

Sullinger is one of the smartest players on this team; the kind of player who will figure this out and become a better player for having gone through this experience.

Until then, there will be more flagrant fouls called against him and yes, he will likely miss a game or two because of that.

But in those moments of loss, Sullinger will gain some much-needed clarity on how to become a better, more complete player who can still be physical but not too physical in this era of the NBA where hard fouls are seen as the exception and not the rule when it comes to tough play.