Every year, NBA players, owners, coaches and general managers donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity. Not all of their philanthropy is voluntary. In the NBA, it’s a fineable offense to wear a headband upside down, to publicly criticize an official, or to execute a chin-up on the rim. As you can imagine, some of these things happen quite frequently. Last Thursday, the San Antonio Spurs were issued a threat of “substantial sanctions” by commissioner David Stern after Gregg Popovich elected to bench Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green for a nationally televised game against LeBron James and the Heat. They were ultimately forced to pay $250,000, and it’s unclear as to which rule they even broke.
On Wednesday, Gerald Wallace was fined $35,000 for his role in an altercation between the Nets and the Celtics, and Rajon Rondo‘s streak of 37 consecutive games with ten or more assists was snapped by his ejection/two-game suspension that resulted from the same skirmish. With the league’s disciplinary measures really having come into focus over the past week, I elected to compile a list of some the most notable punishments in recent NBA history, along with all the unusual circumstances that brought them about.
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In what might be the most ironic punishment in NBA history, Tyrus Thomas was fined $10,000 for telling a few reporters that he was only interested in being part of the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest “for the free money.” Thomas ended up finishing in last place, netting him just $6,125 (all four participants received a guaranteed minimum of $16,125, hence Thomas’s “free money” remark). Don’t worry about his financial situation, though – the Charlotte Bobcats are essentially in the process of paying Thomas $40 million as we speak.
Exactly no one has forgotten about Joey Crawford’s little spat with Tim Duncan. In April of 2007, Crawford allegedly challenged Duncan to a fight before ejecting him from the game for laughing. Crawford, a notoriously temperamental figure, was given the indefinite boot for his indiscretion. Stern reinstated him for the start of the ’07-08 season, but his streak of 21 consecutive Finals appearances was snapped. Nowadays, Joey approaches his job with more enthusiasm than ever before.
Following 16-point loss in March of ’05, Orlando Magic veteran Stacey Augmon was in no mood to speak with the media. So he didn’t. His teammates did, though, and Stacey didn’t like that either. When a reporter asked Steve Francis if “the wheels were coming off,” Augmon took offense. He angrily voiced his opinion, repeatedly stating that it was “a stupid [expletive] question” at increasing volumes. When the reporter informed him that it was Francis who he was interviewing, Augmon snapped and hurled a bottle of lotion across the locker room. The lotion struck the reporter in the back, exploded and splattered all over his suit. Augmon was suspended for one game and reportedly bought the reporter a new suit made of fine Italian silk.
JEFF VAN GUNDY
In May of 2005, Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy was fined $100,000 for publicly accusing officials of treating All-Star center Yao Ming unfavorably. Van Gundy backed his claims by suggesting that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban‘s frequent complaints to the league office were leading to the unfair treatment of Ming. He went as far as to state that one unnamed referee had confirmed his suspicions, which infuriated the commissioner. For his remarks, Van Gundy was forced to foot the largest bill ever handed to a coach. Shortly thereafter, Cuban’s Mavericks eliminated his Rockets from the playoffs.