NEW YORK CITY—As the NBA Playoffs continue into its Conference Semifinal round, the subplots have thickened from every aspect of the sport, including injured star players, impulsive self-sabotage, and the ever popular criticism of game officials.
During David Stern’s tenure as league commissioner, fines against NBA players and coaches have become as common as their out-of-wedlock births. But the ongoing debate among sports media figures about whether the fines damage the game more than the verbal barbs thrown at referees has now extended to the role of the everyday fan.
This morning, the league issued a $5,000 fine to Boston-bred comedian Bill Burr. During this week’s episode of his Monday Morning Podcast, Burr applied his colorful candor to the officiating that he observed during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers:
“I gotta tell ya, I f___in’ hate the officiating. The officiating is the f___in’ worst, you can’t even, like, bump into anybody, you can’t go near anybody. If there’s any sort of touching of human beings, those f_____’ j___offs blow the whistle and they just kill the drama. Just let ‘em play the f_____’ game!”
The unprecedented penalization of a non-NBA employee, who was exercising his 1st Amendment rights, confirms the NBA’s crusade to maintain a positive image in any way that it can. The league released a statement in response to questions about this bold fine:
“The NBA continues its efforts to expand globally. Therefore, we ask all American citizens who enjoy our wonderful sport to demonstrate the class and respect that we, as a multi-billion-dollar business, extend to its customers year after year. And for those who defy our empire, please know that social networking has made it infinitely easy to locate you and see to it that you comply.”
Based on the league’s press release, it is uncertain whether Burr’s marginal celebrity made him an easier target than your average tweeter or facebooker. But the rights with which all American have been endowed and enjoy daily suggest that all American citizens will respond to NBA fines using some form of Burr’s favorite podcast catchphrase: “Go f___ yourself.”