NBA practices are supposed to get players ready to play games, but they can also become pretty intense affairs. It's not a big surprise: put a dozen or so competitive athletes in a basketball context and they're likely to mix it up a bit.
There's no use in injuring a player in practice, though, and players are expected to rein in their physicality to avoid causing harm to teammates. Unfortunately, Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee suffered a swollen eye during Wednesday's practice and claimed someone had elbowed him. Head coach Kevin McHale had other ideas. From Jonathan Feigen for the Houston Chronicle:
Just minutes after Wednesday's practice ended, the swelling above Courtney Lee's right eye was already obvious — the result, he said, of a wayward elbow.
"Somebody got me," Lee said. "I don't know who did it, but I will find out. Hopefully, it doesn't swell up too much to where I can't see."
Lee said he was knocked out for a moment. No one identified the owner of the elbow that hit him, but coach Kevin McHale said Lee won't find a culprit.
"He hit his head on the floor," McHale said. "No one elbowed him in the eye. Believe me, no one is hitting anyone."
There is no witness to corroborate either account, but it seems a little unlikely that Lee would say he was elbowed if he was not. We can only guess at what happened, of course, and it doesn't look like we'll find out the whole story any time soon. Nevertheless, here are five guesses as to why Lee and McHale can't agree on what happened:
1. McHale elbowed Lee in the eye after he asked why anyone would consider Joe Smith important enough to sign illegally.
2. Contrary to general manager Daryl Morey's reputation for statistical analysis, the Rockets decide a game's playing time by engaging in MMA tournaments during practice.
3. Lee and Chandler Parsons got into an argument about which of their names sounds more like a lacrosse player, and eventually things got out of hand.
4. Lee and Goran Dragic were reenacting scenes from the "Three Stooges" trailer and got a little too physical.
5. Lee fell on the floor and inadvertently elbowed himself in the eye, which when you think about it is quite physically impressive.