Raptors’ Fred VanVleet rips NBA officials in vulgar screed
“Most umpires try hard,” said VanVleet. “I like a lot of referees. You make an effort. You’re pretty fair. You communicate well. Then there are the others who just want to be d—s. It’s just kind of f—s the game. Nobody comes to see this. They come to see the players. I think we’re losing a little bit of what the NBA is and was. It’s been disappointing this season.”
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The Raptors (32-35) are in a tight race for a spot in the Eastern Conference Play-In tournament and suffered a 118-113 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday. With less than 30 seconds left and Denver a point clear, Toronto forward Scottie Barnes was kicked out by referee Scott Foster. Barnes had not previously been called a technical foul and the Raptors were stunned by the quick ejection, which was not prompted by an apparent confrontation between the player and the official.
Afterward, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said there was “absolutely nothing” to justify a sacking. Foster told a pool reporter that Barnes was ejected for “use of language that directly questioned the integrity of the crew.”
That exchange was still bothering VanVleet two days later.
“Ben Taylor was terrible tonight,” VanVleet said. “Most nights out of the three [referees], there are one or two that just screw up the game. It’s been like this for a few games in a row. Denver was tough, of course. You come out tonight, compete pretty hard, and in the third quarter I get a Bulls— Tech. That changes the whole dynamic of the game, changes the whole flow of the game.”
According to VanVleet, he received his technical foul on Wednesday for instructing his teammates not to get too involved in arguments.
“When I say to my team, ‘C’mon guys, let’s keep playing through the Bulls—‘ and that warrants a technician. I think that’s a little crazy,” VanVleet said. “What are we doing? There’s a fine line, of course, I understand that, but I think the jurisdiction and the power trip that we’ve had with some of our officials in this league this year is getting out of control. I’ll take my punishment for that, for talking about it. It’s bloody ridiculous.”
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The seven-year-old pro added that many of his eight technical fouls this season have been assessed by Taylor, adding that “at a certain point as a player you start to feel like it’s personal.” Taylor is in his 10th season as an official.
VanVleet, 29, finished the game with 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting, four rebounds and nine assists in 39 minutes against the Clippers.
Los Angeles attempted 31 free throws against Toronto’s 14, a “huge difference” that VanVleet said “made all the difference tonight.”
In January, NBA officials came under fire for missing a potentially game-winning foul on Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, who punched Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James on the arm in the dying seconds of regulation. Boston won 125-121 in overtime. Anthony Davis said afterwards that the Lakers had been “cheated” and that umpires “should be fined for missed calls.”
The National Basketball Referees Association replied with an explanation The next day, he claimed responsibility for the “disruptive” error that the organization said would be “devastating and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be”.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN last month that umpires get playoff assignments based on “the accuracy of their calls and their behavior on the ground,” though the league doesn’t publicly disclose its disciplinary actions taken with respect to officials.
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