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What did the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet say about NBA officials?

Though it’s often the case that players and officials don’t have the best of relationships, there are definitely ‘rules of engagement’ and the Raptors star didn’t respect them.

Though it’s often the case that players and officials don’t have the best of relationships, there are definitely ‘rules of engagement’ and the Raptors star didn’t respect them.
Stephen GoslingGetty

Though the Raptors player crossed a line and was rightly punished for doing so, it’s worth noting that the position he holds is one that is being maintained by a growing number of players in the league.

Raptor’s Fred VanVleet fined $30,000 by NBA

According to reports, the NBA has fined Toronto Raptors point guard, Fred VanVleet after he dished out some heavy criticism of the referees in his team’s 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. On the other hand, context is important here which is to say that the Raptors haven’t enjoyed the best of times lately. Firstly, there was their excruciating loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday. Not only did the team see Scottie Barnes ejected for questioning the referees, but his expulsion came when there were just 30 seconds remaining on the clock in a 1-point game. Needless to say, the resulting technical foul sealed the win for the Nuggets.

Then came the aforementioned game against the Clippers. In what was meant to be a returning to winning ways following Monday’s loss, the Raptors were actually dominant for long spells of the game, but eventually succumbed to the Clippers. Frustration was clear and in particular there was VanVleet, who had been called for a technical foul late in the game due to his reaction to a perceived soft foul on Barnes. Indeed, VanVleet absolutely lost his cool postgame and even called official, Ben Taylor, by name.

What did Fred VanVleet say?

Speaking after the 108-100 loss, VanVleet didn’t hold back when it came to his thoughts on the referees and he threw in a few expletives to cement the point.

I thought Ben Taylor was f---ing terrible tonight,” VanVleet said. “I think that most nights, you know out of the three, there’s one or two that just f--- the game up. It’s been like that a couple of games in a row. Denver was taught, obviously. You come out tonight, competing pretty hard and I get a bullshit tech that changes the whole dynamic of the game, changed the whole flow of the game. And you know, 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 dick and just kind of f--- up the game. And no one’s coming to see that shit. They come to see the players. And 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. 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. There’ve been certain times this year where I feel our team is getting consumed with the way the whistle is going, especially after the night we just had in Denver, the way that finished. There were a couple calls early that we all disagreed with, and if I say to my team ‘Come on guys, let’s keep playing through the bulls—t’ and that warrants a tech, I think that’s a little bit crazy. What are we doing? There’s a fine line, obviously, I understand that but I think the jurisdiction and the power trip that we’ve been on this year with some of our officials in this league is getting out of hand. I’ll take my fine for speaking on it but this is f—ing ridiculous.”

Should referees be held more accountable?

In truth, there really isn’t a sport where players and officials are best buddies, however, it is interesting to note that in recent years we have seen more and more players speaking out about what they felt were bad decisions. From Luka Doncic to LeBron James, several stars have openly criticized officials. Earlier this season, we even saw Anthony Davis suggesting that referees should be fined for poor calls, something which is practiced to an extent in the world of soccer for example, where officials are barred from calling specific games depending on their performance. While the jury remains out on this one, you can bet it won’t be the last we hear of it.


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