Team and league employees have embraced a veil of feigned ignorance during the lockout, as if a refusal to speak the names or sport the images of the players changes any bit of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the current lockout. The league itself has imposed some hefty fines for any who violate the terms of their public denial, with even so much as the public utterance of a player’s name by a team or league representative punishable by a massive financial penalty.
All of which is pretty ridiculous, and potentially quite costly in the case of one Rick Carlisle. The head coach of the reigning champs was kind enough to do an interview with Oregonian columnist Joe Canzano on a Portland radio station, but a few slips of the tongue may put quite a dent in his wallet if the NBA decides to go the fire and brimstone route. Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas explains:
The interview then touches on expected topics like, “Did you sense non-Mavs fans were pulling for you guys against the Heat?” Carlisle said he did and that he felt fans were rooting for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd with Carlisle calling them “great, great players, two all-time great players that didn’t have the ring.”
Carlisle was later asked what the Blazers can do to become a better team. Carlisle naturally said it’s not his place to tell coach Nate McMillan or Blazers management how to run their club, and then in the natural flow of the conversation, Carlisle went here:
“[LaMarcus] Aldridge took a quantum leap this year. I voted for him for All-Stars; I have no idea how he didn’t make the All-Star team, and he’s a great player.”
Carlisle also mentioned Blazers guards Brandon Roy and Wesley Matthews, and how the draft-night trade with Portland to acquire Rudy Fernandez was a good move for the Mavs. Carlisle said he liked getting a veteran player instead of a rookie. The interview continues with neither party thinking gag-order violation flags were being thrown in New York. And so the conversation meandered on and at about 11 minutes in, as Carlisle is talking about how changes to NBA rules over the last decade have enhanced the game, he finishes a rambling thought by suddenly detouring to, “John, I’m sorry, I’ve got to run. I’ve got something I’ve got to do here.”
If fines result from such casual name drops, Carlisle would have plenty of reason to shake his head and roll his eyes at the league’s inflexibility. Hopefully that won’t be the case; Canzano reported soon after that Carlisle was likely contacted by someone with the league or the Mavericks mid-interview, and perhaps his pulling of the plug was enough to appease the NBA’s disciplinarians.