Way back on the first day of training camp for the Los Angeles Lakers, Jared Dudley let it be known what he was going to do if one of his teammates was in trouble.
“Any flagrant foul on LeBron James, just give me the $20,000 fine. It’s on, straight up,” Dudley told reporters on Spectrum SportsNet. “Anyone touches Anthony Davis or LeBron James, that’s part of my job here. I’ve made my money, they can make my minimum.”
A few weeks later, Dudley elaborated on his stance to me, saying that “if I feel like it crosses a certain line, then there has to be something of a stand that you have to take for your teammates.”
Well, on Wednesday night as the Lakers were trying to close out their win against the Orlando Magic, Dudley felt like something crossed a line. As he saw a scuffle starting between Dwight Howard and a few Magic players, Dudley jumped in to remind the rest of the league that he is about that life when he needs to back up his teammates.
Lakers and Magic exchanging words— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 12, 2019
Dudley wanted all the smoke pic.twitter.com/1wHRN2oZJO
After the game, Dudley elaborated to reporters on Spectrum SportsNet about why he felt the need to step in for Howard.
“For one, it was multiple guys and the game was getting chippy already with a lot of fouls not being called both ways,” Dudley said. “I thought it should have been a double tech, but if they want to eject, they can eject.
“You’ve got to stand up for your guy. Sometimes it’s pushing, sometimes it’s a hard foul, sometimes it’s whatever you have to do. I couldn’t really get to him, so I just had to push the pile, make sure everybody moves.”
The two star teammates Dudley originally pledged to defend — Davis and James — both felt that while he shouldn’t have been ejected, Dudley did the right thing in standing up for “his brother” (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“One thing about us, we’re going to have each other’s backs no matter what. He stood up for his brother and I don’t think it was deserving of an ejection, but that’s what they called,” Davis said.
“He told you guys at media day his job is to come in here if somebody ... do something crazy to me or AD or whoever on the team, he’s going to be the muscle.” - LeBron disagrees with the call to eject Jared Dudley, but he appreciates what Dudley did pic.twitter.com/UDfYHUmuKH— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 12, 2019
And for Dudley, it wasn’t even important whether Howard was in the right or not. The always-candid veteran said he’s going to make sure he has his teammates’ backs under any circumstances, just like he would with his own family:
“It goes both ways. Dwight gets fouled a lot, but Dwight fouls a lot,” Dudley said. “Sometimes it’s going to be chippy. Sometimes they jack him up, and sometimes it’s warranted the other way around.
“I don’t care if my teammate’s in the wrong. It’s like if you’ve got a son, or you got kids at home. If they’re in trouble, you’re going to stand up for your son regardless of if it’s a teacher going at him. It’s my son, it’s my teammate, and I just take it like that.”
For his part, Howard appreciated the backup, what it represented... and what it ultimately resulted in:
“We stick up for each other. I’m just happy he did that. There wasn’t nothing going on. We were just trying to ruffle the game up a little bit and get their minds off of winning the game, and it worked,” Howard said as a huge smile spread across his face. “Thanks JD!”
Thanks JD, indeed. Dudley delivered the scrappiness he promised, the Lakers got a 96-87 win for him, and now it’s just a matter of waiting to see if the fine he foretold of will also come to pass. If it does, Howard may owe Dudley a bit more than a standard “Thank You” card.