Following Carmelo Anthony’s questionable ejection Sunday, fellow Oklahoma City Thunder stars Russell Westbrook, Paul George and head coach Billy Donovan were each fined $15,000 for “public criticism of the officiating,” the NBA announced Wednesday.
The comments came after Anthony’s third-quarter ejection in the Thunder’s 103-99 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center, as Thunder players tried to defend Anthony’s actions after the game.
Anthony was ejected after a review of an and-1 layup that he converted over Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic. The Balzers center was nicked by Anthony’s elbow on his way up to the basket and was assessed a flagrant-2 foul that earned him an automatic ejection.
Carmelo Anthony made a wild attempt to initiate contact on a drive & got ejected. Seems a bit excessive pic.twitter.com/PU7jQLgaDt
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) November 6, 2017
On Wednesday, the NBA also upheld Anthony’s flagrant-2 foul, while Westbrook’s flagrant foul from Tuesday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings was downgraded to a common foul.
According to Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press, crew chief Rodney Mott said after the game referees ruled Anthony’s contact was “excessive and not a natural basketball move and the league agreed.”
“We reviewed it, the same as we review all plays of this nature, and agree with the on-court officials that the foul met the criteria of hard contact above the shoulders with high potential for injury,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said. “While attempting to draw a foul, Anthony extended his elbow into his opponent’s face, which is dangerous and reckless in nature.”
Westbrook, who called Anthony’s ejection “nonsense,” drew the most eyeballs Sunday after dropping some expletives postgame:
“I got hit in the face [a couple of minutes earlier],” he said, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. “They didn’t review it, as they should. You know, I just think that when it’s us, our team, myself, they don’t do the same thing they do [for other teams]. Other game, last game, tipped ball against the Celtics, I accidentally hit [Celtics forward Jaylen Brown] in the face. Flagrant foul on me. It was an accident, but I hit him. I accidentally got hit in the face today. Nobody looks at it. Melo go hit Nurkic — ‘Oh, we gonna review it.’
“It’s just a bunch of bulls***, in my opinion. I just think they don’t referee the same way all the time. They pick and choose when they want to do it, which is not fair, in my opinion. You know, I’ve been in this league for a while, and I’m able to see and understand and see what’s right and what’s wrong. But I can see it’s blatant s*** that’s not getting looked at, in my opinion. If you get hit, you need to look at it. You’ve got to look at everything else. You need to take a look at it.”
George had a much more toned-down take, but still wasn’t shy to express his frustrations, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.
“We haven’t been getting the benefit. Every night, we haven’t been getting the benefit of the doubt,” George said. “I don’t know what it is, especially for Russ. He attacks the basket, and so many of his plays at the rim are questionable, and he’s not getting the benefit of the doubt.”
If two OKC players going after the officiating wasn’t enough, Donovan had some thoughts of his own, which earned him his fine.
“I’ve never seen in the history of the game a guy get an and-1 play and then get ejected from the game,” said Donovan on Sunday, according to Young. “That’s probably something you’ve got to talk to the league about.
“What’s more concerning to me is our opponents have gotten to the free throw line 50 more times than we have. And we’ve got a player in Russell who clearly, historically in this league, has gotten to the free throw line as much or if not more than anybody else in this league.”