Referees union angered by fine of official in Rivers spat
The referees criticized the NBA for its stance in Doc Rivers-Bill Kennedy dispute
Rivers was fined $25K for ripping Kennedy, who also was fined
The referees are disappointed that the NBA didn't stand behind Kennedy
NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA's referees union criticized the league on Friday for fining an official who was involved in a dispute with Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers was fined $25,000 on Thursday for his postgame rant two nights earlier in Chicago against Bill Kennedy, who was also docked an undisclosed amount. Rivers complained afterward that Kennedy had stared at him, goading the Celtics coach into receiving a second technical foul and an automatic ejection.
The referees, however, claim that is what they're trained to do, instead of yelling back at the coaches, and plan to appeal.
"Some things you cannot take out of the arsenal of the officials. It's not a stare to start some kind of disagreement or goad him into getting ejected, it's just like, 'Hey, enough is enough,"' referees union spokesman Lamell McMorris told The Associated Press. "And basically he didn't even stare him down. He walked away, he turned his back per what he is trained to do and he removed himself from the situation.
"As far as we're concerned, Billy Kennedy followed every rule according to the referee's manual as it relates to handling situations like this. The only person in this scenario who has had a pattern of behavior that is unprofessional is Doc Rivers, not Billy Kennedy."
The referees noted that Rivers had previously been fined this season for his public complaints about the officiating, getting penalized $15,000 in February for "verbal abuse of game officials" following a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rivers was thrown out with 29.8 seconds left in the 127-121 loss in Chicago on Tuesday, calling his second technical foul "the most unprofessional tech I've ever had."
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said after the game. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
McMorris said one league official told Kennedy there would be no action against him, but believed it must have changed its mind based on the media coverage of Rivers' outburst. He wouldn't say how much Kennedy lost, but, "in comparison to what Bill Kennedy gets paid and what Doc Rivers gets paid, it was not equitable."
McMorris added the fine was a "dangerous situation" as the officials prepare for the postseason.
"The thing that's most troubling is the fact that this person was fined for doing his job and for following the rules and the training and for trying to do his job to minimize the situation and the conflict, and for walking away," McMorris said. "So that's very troubling to all the officials and they're very alarmed by this matter, because one matter like this affects the ability of all of them to do their jobs."
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