Issue 70: You’re Outta Here! The Stupidest Ejections

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I don’t envy the job of professional officials. They have to keep up with world-class athletes night in and night out, all while watching out for a multitude of fouls and violations.

If they really wanted to, an official could call a foul on every play. Particularly at higher levels, there’s jostling going on all the time. Players are getting shoved, arms are getting twisted, tongues are getting tied. Okay, that last one isn’t really a foul, but still. It’s a lot to deal with.

When I was in college, I officiated both intramural and middle school basketball games. The middle school games were easy; the most annoying part was often the parents.

No, sir, I’m not going to call a carrying violation on the other team 80 feet from the basket in this sixth-grade outdoor exhibition game. Please return to your seat.

The intramural games also tended to go smoothly, largely because my background in playing basketball helped as an official. I had a better sense of whether a little bit of contact actually hindered a play, or if the offensive player was merely trying to sell it.

HOWEVER, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. I distinctly remember three times I gave someone a technical foul.

One of them was when a player dunked during an outdoor game. Those rims weren’t breakaway ones like the indoor rims, so it was considered more dangerous to dunk on them. I was impressed by the dunk, but we were supposed to call a technical foul—and, in fact, eject the player—whenever someone slammed one home.

I didn’t want to eject the guy for that, so I just told him not to dunk again. His team won convincingly.

The second time I gave a technical foul, it was during a fraternity game. I was never in a fraternity myself, but officiating enough of their games gave me a sense of which ones featured more “problem” players, a.k.a. the dudes that thought very highly of themselves and would tend to mouth off.

For these games, I had a consistent system. They’d pick one player that would act as their captain (either a player or a coach, since they’d bring their entire house to the games for some reason). If they had a complaint, they could filter it through their captain.

This system worked very well. I might dish out a warning, but it never got to the point of a technical. Except for one game between two fraternities. I don’t remember which ones, so if you were in a fraternity or sorority in college, picture it as a game between your two least favorite houses.

The team itself was fine, but my goodness, that bench was out of control. They kept walking onto the court—sometimes to see the action, sometimes to yell things at their teammates or opponents, but it was never not annoying.

At one point, I was running back to keep up with a fastbreak and knocked into one of the fraternity members who was standing on the court when he shouldn’t have been. After the play finished with a basket, I blew my whistle and gave the whole bench a technical foul. No one crossed over the sideline for the rest of the game.

The final time I awarded a technical foul, it was after a player yelled at me a bunch during a game. His team was getting throttled, so he was understandably upset.

I can’t recall the exact play, though I think it was something like he had gone up for a shot and gotten blocked cleanly, but the block was so forceful that he fell down.

He stood up and chastised me for not calling a foul. I shrugged and told him there wasn’t a foul. He told me to stop being such a [insert another word for cat here] and blow my whistle.

It wasn’t the language itself that got me. It was the way he said it. How he used the word indicates cowardice, a lack of a spine, an inability to say something to someone’s face. And he specifically turned away from me to say it.

If he had just directly said it to me, I would have probably chuckled. But by turning his head down and kind of mumbling it…I guess I gave him a technical foul out of irony.

I didn’t eject him, though. So, there you go — in four years of officiating during college, I called three technical fouls but never once had to eject someone.

The same can’t be said for these officials, though. Let’s dive on in—starting with a fellow Joey! Thanks to loyal Crisp Bounce Pass reader Kevin for the suggestion.

Tim Duncan Gets Tossed for Laughing

I hadn’t seen this clip in a long time, but this is the first thing I think of when I think of silly ejections. Now, after watching it again…I still think it’s very silly.

Let’s hop back to 2007. Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs are one of the best teams in the league and in an exciting intrastate matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.

Toward the end of the third quarter, Tim Duncan gets called for an offensive foul. He’s a little stunned by it, but whatever, it’s just his first one. No biggie. He goes to the bench to chill for the rest of the quarter.

Less than a minute of game time later, the Mavericks miss a free throw, but official Joey Crawford blows his whistle. He makes the symbol for a technical foul and points to…the bench, where Duncan is sitting.

Duncan and his teammates are bewildered. They look around the same way I do when a piece of technology works, then nothing changes, and the next time I use it, it no longer works. Just absolutely baffled.

About a minute later, the Spurs are whistled for another foul. It’s a questionable call; it should probably not be a foul at all and we should all just keep playing on. But instead, the Spurs get the foul. Duncan finds that very funny. He laughs with his teammates on the bench, much like you or I might laugh during a witty line in Derry Girls.

And Crawford is having none of it. He whistles Duncan for a second technical, and Duncan gets ejected. No one can explain it.

This game happened on April 18, 2007, so right near the end of the regular season. Crawford got suspended for the rest of the regular season and playoffs, and Duncan got fined $25,000. Then the Spurs won the championship that year. So it’s probably a win for Duncan in the end.

Crawford said many years later he didn’t like Duncan’s laugh and thought the player was showing the official up. But he also called it a mistake and said he can’t go anywhere without someone asking about Duncan.

The lesson here: laughter is not always the best medicine.

Larry Sanders Gives Enthusiastic Thumbs Up

Sometimes in basketball, you’re playing hard, but you just aren’t getting the results you want. Back in 2013, Larry Sanders was feeling that type of pain.

His Milwaukee Bucks were trailing 102-88 in the waning minutes of a matchup against the Washington Wizards. Sanders made a nice little move and appeared to make a basket as the whistle blew, giving him a chance at a three-point play.

Instead, the official called an offensive foul, and Sanders let his frustration boil over, but in a delightful way.

After pleading his case with the officials, Sanders gave a thumbs up to all three of them. As a result, they gave him a technical foul and an ejection.

As the announcers noted, that technical foul sign is a lot more expensive than the thumbs up.

An Official Walks Into Astou Ndour, Throws Her Out of the Game

Remember how one of my technical fouls came after I ran into a guy when the whole team was on the court? This play was like that but…way more dramatic.

Chicago Sky forward Cheyenne Parker got called for a technical foul after a play, so naturally, she was following up about it with the referee, who was strolling back to the other side of the court.

While she was doing that, her teammate Astou Ndour walked over to the pair. Ndour was holding out her arm, perhaps showing she got hit on the wrist or forearm.

Unfortunately, the referee wasn’t looking at Ndour because he was talking to Parker as he was walking. And he collided with Ndour’s hand.

You can actually see the ref go “whoa!” before he intensely throws Ndour out. He’s that thrown off by what just occurred.

On the one hand, I understand where he’s coming from here. We were trained that if a player ever grabbed or pushed us, to immediately eject them before things escalated. And that was just for intramural games!

It’s likely that’s what this official thought happened. But, also…there’s no way that was a lot of contact. Ndour wasn’t shoving her arm into him or even waving it in a way that could be construed as a slap.

To be fair, the WNBA stepped in the next day and did the right thing — they rescinded the technical foul and the ejection. And we can all go back to being happy.

J.J. Redick Spins a Ball Too Aggressively

This is another instance of an official not exactly seeing what happened in real-time and then assuming the worst after the fact.

In this case, J.J. Redick was already ticked at the officials thanks to a few prior calls. And much like dogs can sense when you’re sad and will give you 6,000 licks to the face, referees can sense when a player is frustrated.

Some officials will let players channel that frustration, knowing, “hey, this person just needs to vent.” Others make the leash much shorter.

The official in this case chose the second option.

I’ll let Jomboy Media describe the play itself, since his thoughts pretty much echo mine and you may as well knock the video out while you’re hearing commentary on it.

Grant Hill and Reggie Evans Slap Some Butts

Even if you’ve never played sports before, you know a slap on the butt is a universal sign of compassion. “Good hustle out there,” you might add before giving your teammate a touch on the tush.

Opponents can also go hands-on with the booty, but that’s a little bit more of a tightrope to walk. Grant Hill and Reggie Evans learned that the hard way.

You may note in the clip below that the Phoenix Suns were trailing the Toronto Raptors 77 to 45. As a Suns player, Hill was understandably frustrated.

So when he got tripped during a play, he gave his defender, Evans, a pat on the hiney. Evans, in return, gave him a respectful gluteal grab, too.

But then Hill went back for a third and final rear-end romp. And that’s what did him in.

This reminds me of two people having an argument and they keep trying to get the last word in. It’s simply far more ridiculous and I enjoy it very much.

Are You Through? ‘Scuse me, you got it.”

This one isn’t an ejection, but it’s two technical fouls against the same team, so I’m throwing it in as a bonus.

love when we get to hear conversations on the court. If you’ve watched games during the pandemic, you’ve likely heard a lot more chatter out there. That’s a great thing.

But even when the stands were full of crowds, we still got some magical moments via players and officials being mic’d up.

In fact, let’s pause to give a moment of respect to any sound engineers out there. Y’all do great work.

I don’t even really have any commentary on this video; it just cracks me up so hard. And it’s only a minute, so give it a watch and enjoy.

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Other Reads and Watches

Kevin O’Connor: An Insanely Extensive NBA Draft Guide

Mike Price: New York City Paid an NBA Star Millions After an NYPD Officer Broke His Leg. The Officer Paid Little Price.

Play Hard. Play Smart. Play Together.

John Gasaway ($): “They need to go to the NBA” — The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Historical Run

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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