(A guest post from our friends at Crunchology. I recommend you check out their site.-CS)
For the 2013 playoffs the NBA introduced a new, harsher flopping rule. Unlike the regular-season flopping rule that gives players a warning for their first offense, the playoff rule does not utilize a warning. A players’ first offense results in an immediate fine, and repeat offenders incur harsher penalties with each offense.
We have seen some fines in the playoffs so far, but none for flopping. Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics, received a fine early on for complaining about the referees (he has a bad habit of doing this). Mark Jackson, coach of the Golden State Warriors, received a fine for trying to influence the referees. And Marco Belinelli of the Chicago Bulls received a fine for making an inappropriate gesture during Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets.
In the spirit of the new flopping rule, Crunchology decided to take a closer look at NBA fines over the past decade. Take a look at our complete study, below.
It seems that these days, just about anything can lead to a fine in the NBA. Tweeting, snowboarding, and simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time have all led to fines. Let’s take a look at what it takes to get penalized.
Fines were separated into very basic categories. You can see the breakdown of frequency and average cost of each fine category below. Based on data from 2003-13:
In a league where the officiating is allegedly rigged at times, one might think there could be some leniency when players or coaches choose to complain about the referees, but that is not the case. In fact, criticizing the refs is the most commonly fined offense in the NBA. It accounts for nearly a quarter of the total number of fines issued, and is responsible for more than $2 million out of the pockets of the guilty parties.
Phil Jackson has received more fines for criticizing the refs than any other individual. He earned himself seven fines for a total of $230,000 over the course of seven years for this particular offense. When asked whether he believed his comments to the media made a difference in referees’ calls, Jackson replied, “I don’t think it makes a difference. I know the referees take an eye test, but I don’t know if they take a reading test.”
Social Media Fines
Some humans are better suited to manage a Twitter account than others. There is no better example of this than when one takes a glance at the social media accounts of pro sports figures. The NBA is no stranger to foolish social media behavior. Here are some of the offenders who found themselves coughing up some cash for what they had to say in 140 characters or less.
Dec. 18, 2009 – Brandon Jennings Tweets Before Speaking to Media – $7,500
In 2009, Brandon Jennings was a rookie for the Milwaukee Bucks. After a double overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, he realized that his team had just crossed an important threshold with their season record. Unfortunately, even though this comment was completely harmless, and was merely an expression of happiness for reaching the .500 point, Jennings tweeted just a bit too early. The NBA has a rule that prohibits players from tweeting until they have finished speaking with the media after games. This innocent tweet cost Mr. Jennings a cool $7,500.
June 8, 2011 – Gilbert Arenas Fails. Hard. – Unknown Fine
Gilbert Arenas was blessed with phenomenal basketball talent. Unfortunately, his incredible abilities were cancelled out by his inability to make good decisions in situations that others might consider simple. One of the many examples of this was his relentlessly offensive Twitter account. He wasn’t fined for any specific tweet, just for his Twitter presence in general. Here are some of the highlights…er…lowlights:
“good morning Twitter fam..i need me a slave to make me breakfast in the mornings..i guess yall might call them girlfriends…im hungry”
“I’m the only athlete that’s never cheated on his girl…but I did practice a lot.. to be good at anything u need practice….So my girl was the GAME and I had practice girls…comn ppl we all know practice makes perfect..I had to practice befor I went into the GAME….So fellas next time ur girl ask u if ur cheating say NO proudly but then say I practice a lot for u baby..tryin to be the best hahaha….Some ladies didn’t think that joke was funny…I’m sorry..I wanna be the best for u..so u should want ur man to practice his craft..lol”
“who do I hav to sleep with to get my account verified?? I hope its not a 10 to 2 girl!!!!at 10 she’s a 2. But by 2 she’s a 10..if that’s the case I don’t need it verified…”
“I feel bad using fake bait to catch [fish]. its like telln a girl she’s the only one and ur a ball player.(They HOPE) until they realize its fake…Since I’m on the subject. Don’t u hate when u meet a girl and she [???] u then ask at sum point ‘am I in ur top 2 or 3’ that’s a [trick] question. I answer like this — Your like a young labron u COULD be a great asset to this team but its all in ur work ethic”
“#youknowyouugly if ur a SINGLE MOTHER…lmaoooooooo sorry but thats funny…Single mothers out there its a joke…I wanted to be the one with the best line.”
Agent Zero indeed.
October 31, 2011 – Micky Arison Tweets About the CBA – $500,000
Can’t say I fully agree with this one. Arison was fined $500,000 for telling a disgruntled fan they were “barking at the wrong owner.” This shared his views on the collective bargaining agreement, which is against the rules. Whatever you say, David Stern.
March 10, 2012 – JR Smith Posts Racy Picture on Twitter – $25,000
J.R. Smith is known for his antics, but as far as the NBA was concerned, this incident took things a little too far. He received a $25,000 fine for tweeting the following picture of a scantily clad woman in his bed. Borderline NSFW:
You can’t watch the game like this, J.R.? On a small TV like that, neither could I.
The woman in the photo is Tahiry, a social media personality who is moderately famous. J.R. probably did her a favor with this tweet, but nonetheless she was pretty upset about it.
March 19, 2012 – Patrick Patterson Criticizes Refs on Twitter – $25,000
Patrick Patterson was fined $25,000 for criticizing the refs in this fairly mundane tweet when he played in Houston. Patterson now plays in Sacramento with superstar teammate DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is one of the most penalized players in the NBA, and the Kings are one of the leagues absolute worst teams. Still happy about having that superstar, Patrick?
June 26, 2012 – Amare Stoudemire Messages Homophobic Slur on Twitter – $50,000
Oh, Amare. This is not the first time Amare Stoudemire has found himself in trouble on social media. Back in 2009 he was fine $7,500 for tweeting during a game. As the only repeat offender of fineable social media mistakes in the NBA, Amare Stoudemire not only failed to be more cautious after his first offense, he took his poor online decision making to a new low. Using homophobic slurs is generally not a good thing for anyone to do. When you are a multi-millionaire superstar athlete, it is an especially poor decision. This direct message on Twitter set him back $50,000.
December 9, 2012 – Stephen Jackson Threatens Serge Ibaka Via Twitter – $25,000
In 2012, Stephen Jackson decided to threaten Serge Ibaka using Twitter and this highly cryptic message written in Stak5 code, it cost him $25,000. Allow me to translate:
“Somebody tell Serge Ibaka that he is not gangster. I am more gangster than him, and the next time he tries to out-gangster me, I will punch him in the mouth. I promise.”
“Ball so hard mothafuckas do fine me.” Yes, they do, Stak Jak. Yes, they do.
January 7, 2013 – Mark Cuban Criticizes Refs on Twitter – $50,000
If you are Mark Cuban, the NBA treats you with exactly zero mercy. More on that later. $50,000 for this seemingly innocent tweet.
Criticizing the refs and misusing your Twitter are not the only things you can be fined for in the NBA. Other finable offenses include throwing your mouthpiece at the referee (who would have guessed?), toting guns, smoking the reefer, kicking towels around in frustration, wearing shorts that are too long and much, much more. We are eager to see what the NBA will come up with next.
Who Gets Fined?
Some people might think that only players get fined. While they are much more likely to be fined since they find themselves in the heat of the moment more frequently than coaches or owners, literally anyone in the NBA can be fined. The chart below breaks down the total amount fined to players, coaches, teams and owners since 2003. We’ll go into further detail about each group beneath the chart.
Players - (235 Fines for $5,355,500)
Players have incurred more than twice as many fines as coaches, teams and owners combined, but their average fine amount sits at $28,757. Only coaches have a lower average fine amount.
In 2007, nearly half of the total amount fined to players ($1,027,00) came from a single $500,000 fine dished out to Vladimir Radmanovic, the largest fine ever dealt to a player. Why such a large fine? For snowboarding, of course. Radmanovic separated his shoulder while snowboarding, which was a direct violation of his contract with the Lakers. Players are required to keep themselves safe and healthy during the off-season and All-Star Break. Getting injured while participating in a potentially dangerous activity like snowboarding is a no-no.
The chart below displays the top 20 most fined players in the NBA since 2003.