The Clippers got fined for tampering, because Clippers coach Doc Rivers compared Raptors star Kawhi Leonard to Michael Jordan. Rivers’ comments seemed innocent enough, coming while working as a TV analyst and without himself bringing up Leonard.
Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
The NBA’s tampering rules remain vague and arbitrarily enforced.
If the Clippers were fined for a collection of transgressions, the league should have announced that. Citing only Rivers’ remarks has two major consequences:
1. It inspires perception of unfairness. Many coaches, who are are required to hold pre- and post-game press conferences, have complimented opposing players like this without getting publicly fined. (The NBA doesn’t announce every fine.)
2. It has a chilling effect. Fans are served by coaches publicly analyzing the game. That’s why the league requires those pre- and post-game press conferences. Now, coaches might be overly careful to the point they say nothing at all.
Maybe the Clippers deserved a fine for tampering. Toronto obviously thought so. But this was a poor way to draw the line.