(AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was asked in London last week about fining misbehaving players, and even he acknowledged the penalties aren’t much of a deterrent.
“More symbolic than anything,” Silver said.
It might be time for the league to change that.
At least based on what’s happened in the NBA the past couple days. The postgame locker-room incident that involved some players from the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday — the holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., no less — was a bad look for the league, as was the wild swing that Orlando’s Arron Afflalo threw at Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica on Tuesday.
The James Johnson-Serge Ibaka dustup during the Miami-Toronto game last week earned those players one-game suspensions that cost them a total of about $300,000. Utah’s Rodney Hood might have been lucky to have been fined only $35,000 for slapping a phone out of a fan’s hand. Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry were probably smart to just talk about taking their differences outside, and not actually go that route.
But the Clippers-Rockets circus, whatever it was, has to be of major concern to the league.
Players are upset with referees, and that airing of grievances will be aired officially in meetings with the league at All-Star weekend. Whatever the players say in Los Angeles might seem less credible now, especially after the last few days. Further complicating matters is that Rockets star Chris Paul — who is president of the National Basketball Players Association — recently called out referee Scott Foster, plus allegedly had a role in the postgame events Monday.
It’s a tough spot for the NBA.
It’s also not a time for anything symbolic. Silver is a player-friendly commissioner, but that doesn’t mean the NBA can’t show some teeth.
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