Luka Dončić was fined $35,000 by the NBA on Friday for a gesture toward an official during Wednesday's game between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors.
Per the league announcement attributed to NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, Dončić's gesture "toward a game official" was "inappropriate and unprofessional."
Here's the gesture in question with Dončić rubbing his fingers together, apparently signaling money:
Dončić made the gesture after he missed a layup with Dallas trailing, 125-122 in the game's final five seconds. Dončić was guarded under the basket by Draymond Green and apparently believed that Green fouled him on the shot.
— hoops bot (@hoops_bot) March 23, 2023
The Warriors went on to win, 127-125. The late sequence was far from the only bit of controversy in the high-stakes game. During the third quarter, Golden State inbounded the ball under the Dallas basket while the entire Mavericks lineup was on the other side of the court. The play resulted in an uncontested dunk for Warriors center Kevon Looney.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 23, 2023
Mavericks players and head coach Jason Kidd contested the play on the court. Owner Mark Cuban then tweeted that officials initially signaled that possession belonged to the Mavericks on the play. Per Cuban, officials changed the call to Warriors possession during a timeout and didn't inform the Mavericks.
For those wondering about the play with 1:54 to go on the 3rd, let me explain what happened. The ref called Mavs ball . The announcer announced it. Then there was a timeout . During the time out the official changed the call and never told us. Then when they saw us line up as…
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) March 23, 2023
Dončić echoed Cuban's claim in his postgame media availability.
“It was kind of weird," Dončić told reporters. “I think the refs — the first time, called it correctly. But when we came out of the timeout, there was another ref right on the sideline thinking it was probably Dallas ball. ... So, I think in that situation, you just have to group up and clear it up.
“I was surprised. Honestly, at that moment, I didn’t know what was going on. I was like, ‘What is that?’ But I’ve never seen that happen in my life."
Crew chief Sean Wright told a pool reporter the called was conveyed accurately on the court.
"Initially, on the floor, the original signal was, in fact, Golden State ball as this can be seen on video," Wright said. "There is a second signal, but that signal is for a mandatory timeout that was due to the Mavs."
Here's the sequence that shows the baseline official initially pointing toward the Warriors side on the out-of-bounds play, then pointing back toward the Mavericks' end of the floor. Looney protested the second call, clearly under the impression the official had signaled Mavericks ball. Per the ESPN broadcast, the public address announced that it was Mavericks ball.
For anyone who hasn't seen it, here's the odd sequence that led to the Warriors essentially two free points in Wednesday's game against the Mavericks. pic.twitter.com/5Y5339sAtU
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) March 23, 2023
The Mavericks filed a formal protest with the NBA after the game. The NBA has yet to announce a decision on the protest. But it made clear its thoughts on Dončić's gesture.
The game result was of significance in a tightly packed Western Conference playoff race. With the win, the Warriors improved to 38-36 to sixth place in the West, the last position guaranteed a playoff berth. The Mavericks would have taken sixth place with the same record had they won. Instead, they fell to 36-37 and enter Friday's NBA slate in eighth place in the West, which would require them to advance from the play-in tournament to secure a playoff spot.