With just more than two minutes remaining in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and the Miami Heat holding a very comfortable lead over the Indiana Pacers, coaches Erik Spoelstra and Frank Vogel had largely emptied their benches, resulting in end-game playing time for the likes of Pacers reserve Jeff Pendergraph (who had played just three minutes in this series, all in a blowout Game 3 loss) and Heat backup Rashard Lewis (who'd managed five minutes spread over two games). As Pendergraph attempted to set a screen to free Pacers guard D.J. Augustin, Lewis gave Pendergraph a little shove in the back that sent the Indiana big man into Heat guard Norris Cole.
Pendergraph, apparently, didn't like getting so close with Cole.
After Pendergraph gave Cole a second push and shove, to which Cole appeared to offer barely any response (at least physically, beyond a brief self-bracing square-off), referee Ken Mauer made the somewhat curious decision to give both players the gate, ending what TNT play-by-play announcer Marv Albert correctly called "a cameo" for Pendergraph (two points in 1:27) and a longer, somewhat more impactful evening for Cole (eight points on 3 for 4 shooting, four assists, two rebounds, one steal, no turnovers in 19 1/2 minutes).
"That's kind of a strange play," color commentator Steve Kerr said.
But not the strangest part of these late-game ejections. By a long shot.
As intrepid TNT sideline maven Craig Sager reported, a courtside patron at the AmericanAirlines Arena seated behind the Pacers bench was also ejected for his role in the late-game trash-talking. That patron?
"It actually was Flo Rida's manager who was ejected," Sager said. "He and Pendergraph had been going back and forth. He got to be such a distraction that the officials came over and tried to eject him. He wanted to stay put. However, Flo Rida said, 'You're my manager, but you've got to get out of here now.'"
A shrewd decision, Mr. Rida. Though we'd expect nothing less from a man rocking so dominant and massive a gold-and-diamond-encrusted Jesus piece, or from a man who was nominated for six 2013 Billboard Music Awards, including Best Digital Songs Artist.
Oh, also, the Heat beat the hell out of the Pacers and are headed back to the NBA Finals for the third straight year to take on the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs. Y'know, in case you were interested.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Miami tops the upstart Indiana Pacers in Game 7
• Roy Hibbert's unsportsmanlike conduct after Game 7
• Photos: Heat celebrate East championship
• Photos: Pacers taste defeat after Game 7 blowout
- Sports & Recreation
- Miami Heat
- Indiana Pacers
- Jeff Pendergraph
- Norris Cole
- Rashard Lewis
- Flo Rida