April 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) dive in to the crowd for the ball in the second half of the game at the Staples Center. Lakers won in double OT 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
This is your strange, WTF, story of the day, I suppose. It all started back in the 2005, when Bill Geeslin, a Blytheville, Arkansas-native, attended a Grizzlies home game against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. As the story goes, Bryant was chasing down a loose ball when he ran out of bounds and directly into Geeslin, who was sitting courtside.
This is where the story gets...interesting:
"I recall a fast-paced incident seeing him come to me, running into me and then forearming me," Geeslin said in a 2008 deposition. "He intentionally forearmed me in the chest. He did not apologize. He walked away and pushed – he kind of pushed his arm toward me and glared at me and walked away."
He surmised that Bryant was angry that his team was losing or that the referee called no foul on the Grizzlies.
And, with that, he filed a lawsuit.
Now, the unfortunate thing about all of this is that Geeslin has since passed, back in 2008 at the age of 49, but there are no "allegations" that he died of complications brought on by the Bryant forearm.
Geeslin ultimately suffered a bruised lung cavity -- which is painful, but was treated with Ibuprofen and a breathing machine -- though he was given a clean bill of health some two weeks later.
However, Geeslin still brought about a lawsuit, saying that Bryant "assaulted" him and treated him like a "punching bag."
The suit, which asked for unspecified damages exceeding $75,000, was dismissed in 2010 by U.S. Dist. Judge S. Thomas Anderson, who said a spectator assumes a risk when attending a game and that the contact Bryant made with Geeslin was not offensive.
However, again, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided to bring back the charges on Bryant for assault and battery back in December. With today being jury selection day -- yay!! -- the two sides decided to settle out of court because, well, what's some $75,000 to Kobe Bryant?
This of course seems like a ridiculous suit, and I would love to be able to hear a better explanation from Geeslin, but, ya'know, the whole "he's dead" thing...I don't mean to make light of his death or his sustained injuries, but really when you're sitting courtside at an NBA game you do take on the risk of having large men twice your size barrel into you. It comes with the closeness of it all.
It's a risk you take -- a costly one, no doubt. But unless we don't want our players going hard all 48 minutes, or unless we want to add a barrier between the court and the fans, we probably shouldn't be setting a bad precedent by suing a player for "going hard." The best thing to do is sit, I don't know, a few rows back if you think you're in danger of getting hurt.
Or wear BODY ARMOR! Just don't sit courtside and complain, because I know plenty of folks who read this here blog who would gladly take a Kobe Bryant elbow for the chance to sit front row at the FedEx Forum. Just sayin'.