NBA officials take a lot of abuse. It’s mostly verbal, but on rare occasions, it gets physical, too. Making contact with a ref is a big no-no and usually results in technical foul and/or ejection, even when that contact is supposedly incidental. Just ask Austin Rivers. It turns out just throwing the ball to a referee can be a dicey endeavor as well.
Russell Westbrook learned that lesson the hard way on Wednesday night. During a timeout of the Thunder’s game against the Hornets in Charlotte, Westbrook threw the ball in the direction of an official who was walking underneath the goal and just happened to not be paying attention.
Westbrook didn’t realize this until the ball had already left his hand and was forced to look on in horror as it conked him right in the head. He was clearly apologetic, but it earned him a technical foul anyway. You can argue all day whether it was intentional, but it sure didn’t look that way.
He also isn’t the first player to get T’d up for throwing a ball at a ref. Allen Iverson did the same thing back in the day and also got a tech, so the next time around he carefully handed the ball to a different official to avoid any further incidents. Westbrook should probably make a mental note of that.