Referee reportedly tells Suns player “stop being a little b****” then ejects him


The Suns were blown out by the Thunder on Wednesday, in a game that was relatively competitive through the first three quarters. It was a four point game just seconds into the fourth, before the Thunder took control behind 11 points from James Harden in the final period, which helped turn the game into a 20-point laugher for Oklahoma City before the night was through.

But the real joke was on the Suns, and it appeared to come from the officials.

With the game long having been decided and the Thunder leading by 20 points with 1:05 remaining, seldom-used Zabian Dowdell received two quick technicals for comments he made to the officials and was ejected, and Aaron Brooks immediately followed suit.

It’s as unusual an ending to a game as you’ll ever see: two players getting tossed in a 20-point blowout with just over a minute to go. So what happened?

Suns’ players were reluctant to speak to the specific events afterward, but word around the locker room was that one of the referees said something that crossed the line, which caused the overreaction from the players and the ensuing ejections.

The exact comment was reportedly referee Ken Mauer telling Dowdell to “stop being a little b****” after a call, to which Dowdell responded by asking Mauer if he would call him that off the court. That’s when Dowdell was tossed.

Dowdell only described the referee’s comments as “disrespectful”, and said he’s never seen anything like it in his brief time in this league, or in any other he’s played in when I asked him about it afterward. Seth Pollack of SBNation Arizona was there to capture Dowdell’s remarks on video.

As for Brooks, there’s video that appears to show him grabbing himself below the waist before the referees threw him out of the game, as well.

If Mauer said what many reported he said, then the league has a real issue on its hands. Referees unquestionably have an extremely difficult job out there, but under no circumstances can they be allowed to respond to players’ complaints with derogatory comments like this. The league should investigate, and make its findings public.

In the meantime, it obviously wasn’t the best of endings to a game where the Suns competed against a legitimate playoff team for most of it, and it was honestly somewhat embarrassing to see. But given the reserved nature of Dowdell, and his limited time on an NBA court in game situations, you have to believe that whatever was said by the referee had more than a little to do with the way things turned out.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.