Lots of fun, weird, and wild NBA stories are happening during the playoffs. We’ll be tracking them here, on our All-Day NBA Blog. We’ll be updating throughout the day, so come back often. And make sure you’re reading all our hot NBA playoffs content, here.
The Words That Cost David Fizdale $30,000
Juliet Litman: David Fizdale’s immediately classic rant about what he considered unfair refereeing in Game 2 of Spurs vs. Grizzlies has cost him $30,000. The rant was 253 words, which averages out to $118.58 per utterance. For coaches, their training and their ability to motivate are as important as their schemes. Considering the likely motivational impact, $119 per word seems reasonable. However some words have more weight than others. I think we can safely assume the following words bumped up the fine. Here are the 10 most expensive words:
10. Data: The stat nerds do not need provoking, Fiz.
9. Poorly: Direct language like this cannot be taken back.
8. Pedigree: Coaches fall into two categories — ex-players and not. Touchy subject.
7. Unprofessional: Arguably the biggest insult to the league.
6. Conley: Punishing the organization for making a non-superstar the highest-paid player in the league for a spell.
5. Numbers: David Krumholtz references not tolerated.
4. Them: Too Marxist.
3. Us: Too nativist.
2. Kawhi: Why remind Spurs fans that yet another one of their stars is getting underestimated?
1. Rook: Looking forward to this being the Word of the Year for 2017.
Take MMA, BUT DOUBLE IT
Micah Peters: The Wizards had only 25 fouls to the Hawks’ 22 in Game 1, but there was a richer contrast in the two teams’ approaches to defense. While Atlanta was more or less business as usual, the Washington ethos was:
This was both good for setting the tone and bad for bailing out a bottom-four-ranked offense with 39 attempts from the free throw line. Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Paul Millsap, whose life Markieff Morris made hell all Sunday evening, was somewhat peeved about the physicality of the game.
Morris’s response, from Wednesday?
“Double MMA.” DOUBLE MMA. HE TURNED THE LOGIC OF THE COMMENT ON ITS HEAD AND MADE COMPLETE NONSENSE OUT OF IT BUT I’M NOT GONNA BE THE ONE TO TELL HIM THAT, YOU DO IT.
But what would “double MMA” look like, in theory? Probably something close to five-on-five MMA bouts, which, yes, are actually a thing, in northeastern Europe.
Gordon Hayward Has a Problem
Peters: The Jazz craned their necks across the finish line on Saturday against the Clippers thanks to Joe Johnson, but Contract Year Gordon Hayward put up only 19 points while making less than half of his shots. In Tuesday night’s Game 2 loss, Hayward was noticeably stifled again, with 20 on 5-of-15 shooting. Why? It’s simple: Hayward gets nervous playing in front of his father, Luc Mbah a Moute.
Jimmy Butler Is Turning Into J.R. Smith
Peters: A 111–97 win to take a 2–0 series lead over an increasingly fraudulent-looking Boston Celtics team is a solemn reminder that we are never, ever, ever escaping the Bulls. Like, ever. Rajon Rondo read Brad Stevens’s offense like an open book and Dwyane Wade perked up with 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the catalyst was — or rather, the constant has been — Jimmy Butler, who finished with 22. If you’ll recall, Butler also willed Chicago to a 9–4 finish and a spot in the playoffs by taking on more of a facilitative role for the Bulls. When asked about his on-court decision-making after the game, Butler also … made the Bulls seem fun, for the first time in forever.
The full quote is obviously less sexy, but someone has been thumbing through a copy of the Tao of Earl. I would say this sound bite from Butler is passively great. While this, from J.R. Smith two years ago, is actively great.
Markelle Fultz Has Begun His NBA MVP Campaign
Haley O’Shaughnessy: Markelle Fultz, not yet on an NBA team, will be the most valuable player in professional basketball this coming season. At least, he thinks he has a shot. Or, rather, he just wants to be the MVP:
“I want to be Rookie of the Year,” he said in a video. (Oh come on, every rook says that, Markelle.) “Honestly …” (Here we go!) “…me?” (Yes, you, Markelle.) “I’m tryin’ to be MVP next year.”
It’s surprising to hear someone not yet in the league (and also not named LeBron James) say he wants such recognition, especially for a rookie season that has yet to happen. But it’s also not surprising: Fultz has officially hit the (somewhat proverbial) road on what we are calling the “I Am A Very Important Future Basketball Player” Tour. At the beginning of the month, the Maryland native traveled to Philadelphia, witnessed the Brooklyn “clinched the worst record in November” Nets violently thrash the Sixers, and still said after the game that it “would be cool” if he was drafted by the organization.
Later in the month, he told Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp that he and Isaiah Thomas (both point guards, both Huskies) would make “the craziest backcourt” and “switch between the one and two.” For the record, prior interviews suggest that Thomas would not mind the incoming rookie, proposing a point guard share, and calling Fultz, affectionately, “a fucking freak.” (Athletically!)
Now, come closer and I’ll whisper a secret never spoken of before. Boston — this is really going to blow your mind — owns the Nets’ pick, and has the highest odds of selecting first overall. “№1 is big for me because I’ve been dreaming about it all my life.” It also explains why he and Lonzo Ball, the draft’s other top prospect, have been talking about who is the better pick. After Ball said he was a better team leader, Fultz retorted that it was “funny.”
They both have lavish expectations in common: The former’s dad said he’s already comparable to a two-time MVP; the latter already wants to be MVP.
Pat Riley Is at His Peak
Paolo Uggetti: Pat Riley is going to force us to talk about him. In fact, he’s making my hands type this right now. It doesn’t matter that the Heat are not in the playoffs — he will insert himself into the conversation. To us, the news cycle is a stream of endless information to consume. To Pat Riley, the news cycle is a canvas waiting to be painted with the brush of a man who has remained a stalwart of the league for generations.
During his end-of-the-year press conference on Wednesday, Riley did what Riley does best: Be Riley. Let us count the ways in which he was.
He Gave Everyone a Weird Gift
Riley began by handing everyone in attendance the card above. One: What does this even mean? Two: As Haley O’Shaughnessy said, “This is a much better motivational quote if you’re on the actual Warriors.” Can’t disagree. You think Hassan Whiteside reads that and is motivated or reminded that no matter how good he is or the Heat become, it will all be in vain because the Warriors exist? Probably the latter.
He Invented a Word
Goosebumply. This is genius. I, for one, am all for turning nouns into adverbs. Getting goosebumps will no longer be as accurate a description as merely saying, “goosebumply.” If “hashtag” can be turned into a word in the dictionary, don’t tell me goosebumply can’t make it in. Actually, don’t try to tell Riley that, Merriam-Webster.
He Complained About Not Being in the Playoffs
The Heat missed out on the playoffs by the smallest of margins. They had the same 41–41 record as the Bulls, but Chicago owned the tiebreaker and got in. Needless to say, Riley wants the rules to be changed his way.
He Commented on the Hot Topic
The Heat, said Riley, don’t rest. He called the epidemic of teams resting players a “travesty”. At the same time, he also admitted that he was the first coach to do it and get fined for it. That is peak Riley.
He Was a Proud Dad
Fizdale is a Riley disciple, an assistant with the Heat for eight seasons. It’s completely unsurprising that Riley was made proud by Fizdale’s rant. Riling up the refs is a classic Riley move. I’d like to see Riley’s reaction the first time he watched Fizdale’s rant. Do you think he laughed? Shed a tear? Probably both.
Blake Was Good Tuesday Night
Peters: But I miss this Blake.