OK, everybody. Time to update your files. Apparently, grabbing an opponent by the throat in the middle of a scrum is now against the NBA’s rules. I know. Weird, right?
This new information comes to us courtesy of NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, who announced Sunday that Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal had been fined $15,000 “for grabbing at the throat of” Orlando Magic guard/forward Evan Fournier during a skirmish between the two teams on Friday night.
The yoking took place with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter, after a bang-bang block-charge play led to some extracurricular activity that eventually prompted the Florida product to go for the Frenchman’s jugular.
After a 3-point miss by Orlando’s Aaron Gordon and a scramble for the rebound, Wizards reserve guard Tomas Satoransky came down with the loose ball and pushed it down the other end in transition. Magic guard D.J. Augustin stepped in Satoransky’s path, hoping to take a charge, and the two made contact as Satoransky whipped a pass back to trailing Washington wing Kelly Oubre Jr. The officials whistled the play dead, but Oubre kept coming, leaping in the paint for a dunk. Magic rim-protector Bismack Biyombo elevated, too, blocking the try.
After they came down, Oubre pushed Biyombo in the back. Biyombo returned the favor. Oubre turned and got in Biyombo’s face. Beal came over to get between his teammate and his opponent. Fournier pushed Beal aside on his way to do the same. Beal let Fournier know he didn’t appreciate that by briefly, but intently, wrapping his left hand around Fournier’s throat:
“[Orlando] is a physical team, but we’re a team that’s not going to get punked or pushed around,” Beal said after the game, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “That’s something we’re trying to find. We’re trying to find our identity. We need to get back to being a physical team and playing with intensity for 48 minutes, and if we continue to do that, we’re going to be good.”
The refs went to the videotape to review the donnybrook, resulting in Beal, Fournier, Biyombo and Oubre all receiving technical fouls. The game moved on from there, with Washington notching a 94-91 win thanks to a strong close by All-Star point guard John Wall, who scored eight points in the final 1:38 with the game in the balance, and finished with 26 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three assists in 39 minutes. Beal was scoreless after the choke, finishing with 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting in 38 minutes, but he did add eight assists while aggressively looking to make plays for others against a Magic defense that focused hard on slowing him down.
[Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
That Beal received the same in-game penalty as Fournier, Biyombo and Oubre did seemed pretty insane, considering the three of them pushed one another and Beal attempted to leave a dude’s lifeforce tank on E:
ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. he has a HAND PRINT ON HIS NECK. pic.twitter.com/Pay0Y2StYb
— rach (@rachaelhoops) November 26, 2016
Evidently, the powers-that-be in the league office agreed … but only to the point that the fifth-year shooter received a fine $10,000 smaller than Dwyane Wade got last month for making a menacing gesture after hitting a game-winning shot.
To review: pantomiming a throat slash will cost you $25,000, while literally grabbing your opponent’s throat and squeezing only costs you 15 large. Professional sports discipline, as ever, contains vast universes of mind-blowing and unexplained phenomena.
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