Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet was fined $30,000 by the NBA on Thursday for his blistering criticism of official Ben Taylor that came after a 108-100 loss to the LA Clippers on Wednesday night.
VanVleet reiterated his frustration at the time with the officiating, not just in the loss to the Clippers but also in a defeat at the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
“Speaking for a lot of guys, obviously I was frustrated, emotional,” VanVleet told Toronto reporters on Thursday. “But there are a lot of people that feel that way. Hopefully going forward we see some change for the better, the betterment of the game. It was a little emotional, a tough loss, things not going our way, got caught up in the moment a little bit.
“You live and you learn and you move on. It came out authentic, it came out in real time. I wouldn’t have done that if I felt like I had another option or outlet. I felt like I’ve exhausted my option this season, many different occasions. It is just one of those things, I am human.
“You will see me make mistakes in real time and make things that are not always perfect. A little unprofessional for my standard, so it was unfortunate.”
The Clippers went to the line 31 times compared to the Raptors’ 14 free-throw attempts. VanVleet was whistled for a technical foul by Taylor with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter. The Clippers were up seven at the time. While Toronto would get within 70-68 later in the quarter, the Clippers would push the lead back up to 12 shortly before the start the fourth.
After VanVleet picked up his eighth technical foul this season — three of which have come from Taylor — he sounded off on the official.
“I don’t mind, I’ll take a fine. I don’t really care,” VanVleet said on Wednesday night. “I thought Ben Taylor was f—ing terrible tonight. I think that on most nights, you know out of the three [officials], there’s one or two that just f— the game up. It’s been like that a couple of games in a row.
“[Losing on Monday at] Denver was tough, obviously. You come out tonight, competing pretty hard and I get a bulls— tech that changes the whole dynamic of the game, changed the whole flow of the game.
“Most of the refs are trying hard. I like a lot of the refs, they’re trying hard, they’re pretty fair, and communicate well. And then you got the other ones who just want to be d—- and just kind of f—- the game up… And no one’s coming to see that s—. They come to see the players.”
Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart was asked about officiating on Thursday and he referred reporters to VanVleet’s comments.
“I don’t know if you saw Fred VanVleet’s interview,” Smart told reporters. “That is all I am going to say. Obviously it let’s you know that I am not speaking out of my butt and I am not the only one that feels that way. I am going to let Fred do all the talking.”
The Raptors have felt the frustration of two straight games with second-half technical fouls.
During the Raptors’ 118-113 loss at Denver on Monday, official Scott Foster called Scottie Barnes for a technical foul before ejecting him with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets were leading at the time by one point.
Foster said in the postgame pool report that Barnes was ejected on one technical because “he used verbiage that which directly questioned the integrity of the crew.”
“I think we’re losing a little bit of the fabric of what the NBA is and was and it’s been disappointing this season,” the Raptors point guard said after the Clippers loss. “You can look it up: Most of my techs this year have been with Ben Taylor officiating.
“So at a certain point as a player, you feel it’s personal and it’s never a good place to be. That’s not why we lost tonight — we got outplayed, but it definitely makes it tougher to overcome.”