Two fans heckling the Huskies in Boulder Thursday night got under the skin of Washington center Malik Dime, who followed up a threat by slapping both. Friday, he was suspended indefinitely.
Malik Dime executed on what is likely the fantasy moment of most visiting college basketball players when encountering smart-ass fans on the road. The University of Washington’s 6-9, 220-pound senior center Thursday night slapped two wise guys in Boulder.
But he will pay a price. UW announced Friday afternoon that Dime has been suspended indefinitely.
“Malik’s actions were inconsistent with his typical behavior,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They were absolutely unacceptable, and did not represent the values of our team and the sportsmanship spirit of our conference.”
Said Dime: “I was very caught up in the emotion of the game, and allowed my frustrations to influence my behavior. I made a very poor decision, and did not represent my team, my Univiversity and my family the way I want to.”
The episode happened at halftime of the Washington-Colorado game, won handily by the Buffaloes, 81-66. Dime, who was in uniform but not playing because of a broken finger, confronted fans near the Huskies bench. He pulled back his offer of a handshake, slapped one fan and caught a second on the the follow-through.
Fans of The Three Stooges will appreciate the double play.
The website BSNDenver.com had an account of the incident Friday in which the hecklers claimed surprise, but were not eager to follow up with a charge.
“We were talking the usual game talk with the players like we usually do,” the site quoted a student named Dylan (no last name provided) as saying. “Malik looked over at us at one point and said, ‘I’m gonna come over there and slap the shit out of you.’
“We didn’t think that was real, so we just laughed. Then at the end of the half, he came over to us and pretended like he was giving me a handshake, and I reached out and he pulled back and slapped me in the face. The follow-through hit the person sitting right next to me, which was Brian.”
Brian said, “I wasn’t shocked because he said, ‘I’m gonna slap the shit out of you.’ (Colorado State guard) Jeremiah Paige and (Colorado State coach) Larry Eustachy have said worse. We have a long tradition of getting under people’s skin. But nobody has ever taken physical action, and I’m surprised.
“I thought it was a real handshake. He came over with a windup. It was a hard hit. It’s a double face, there’s no way around that.”
Said Dylan: “One slap, two faces. I was impressed. He’s got a big wingspan.
“Front row, every game, usually the players go along with my smack and by the end of the game, I usually become friends with the players I talk trash to. I became friendly with a bunch of guys on their bench already, but Malik was just not having it.”
Laughing, he said, “Definitely uncalled for, plus if he’s gonna slap me, don’t fake the handshake. Just come and swat me.”
Brian said he would decline to press charges.
“We’re not trying to get anyone in trouble — we’re good people,” Brian said. “It’s all in the fun of the game. We got a lot of love for Malik, the people of Seattle and Washington.”
Following the game, Dime came over and shook hands with each student.
While the fans may be willing to forgive, the NCAA and all pro sports have strict prohibitions on athlete-fan contact, no matter the provocation. The suspension was expected.
After Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. PT game at Utah in Salt Lake City, which Dime was not planning to play because of the injury, the Huskies have five regular-season games left.