Rockets' Ariza, Green Suspended Two Games For Roles In Postgame Locker Room Incident
The NBA yesterday suspended Rockets Fs Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green two games without pay for entering the Clippers' locker room to "confront a player" following Monday's game at Staples Center, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. NBA Exec VP/Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said of the incident, "It's inappropriate and possibly a very dangerous situation." Rockets Gs Chris Paul and James Harden were "not penalized for their roles in the altercation." No penalties were issued to the Clippers because they "remained in their locker room." Through an investigation that "included more than 20 interviews by the NBA's basketball operations department, including surveillance from video cameras, the league determined that Ariza and Green entered the Clippers' locker room and 'engaged in a hostile, verbal altercation with several Clippers players.'" The investigation determined Paul and Harden "followed Ariza and Green into the corridor outside the locker room in an effort to diffuse the situation" and thus discipline for those two was not warranted (USA TODAY, 1/18). VanDeWeghe said of Paul's and Harden's role in the incident, "[They] are in the hallway. That's where they are heard trying to get their players out, saying, 'We don't need this. C'mon guys, get out of here" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/18). In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman writes potentially "playing into the league's decision to suspend Ariza was the fact that this was not his first attempt to enter another team's locker room" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).
CLIPPERS ESCAPE PUNISHMENT: ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon reported the Rockets are "shocked and disappointed" that Clippers F Blake Griffin and G Austin Rivers "avoided any disciplinary action." The team is "adamant that Griffin intentionally made contact" with Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni. Rivers talked trash to Ariza near the end of the fourth quarter and sources said that he "continued the profane trash talk after the game, yelling loudly enough in the Clippers' locker room for Ariza to hear him in the hallway" (ESPN.com, 1/17). In Houston, Jenny Dial Creech writes the "problem with this punishment isn't the suspensions." Two games for Ariza and Green is "harsh, but as long as the league is consistent with this if it happens again, it's fine." What is "not fine" is that Griffin, who did "two things on the court in plain sight, is walking away with nothing." A player "cannot make physical contact like that with a coach." Griffin "should have been punished in some way for that" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/18).
DON'T DEPRIVE THE FANS: In L.A., Broderick Turner notes Rivers "didn't agree with the rulings" for Ariza and Green. Rivers said, "It should just be fines, heavy fines. I just don't like anybody missing games, personally. And that's more coming from a fan's perspective" (L.A. TIMES, 1/18).