For the third time in this season’s NBA playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks have been fined for the same offense: violating league rules regarding team bench decorum.
The league announced the third fine on Sunday, a result of the Mavs bench’s actions against Golden State in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.
The fines have doubled from $25,000 to $50,000 and now $100,000 for the latest infraction.
“On multiple occasions, several players and a member of the coaching staff stood for an extended period in the Mavericks’ team bench area, stood away from the team bench, and were on or encroaching upon the playing court during game action,” the league announced in a statement endorsed by NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell.
The tone of that statement does not reflect the league’s frustration with the Mavericks. The league believes the conduct of the Mavs’ bench impacts player safety, competitiveness and fan consideration.
League rules state players during a game must remain seated while the ball is in play, except to react spontaneously to a notable play or report to the scorer’s table to check into the game; players not in the game may not remain standing at or away from team’s bench during game action; and bench players are prohibited from distracting opponents in an unsportsmanlike manner during game action.
The final item – distracting opponents in an unsportsmanlike manner during game action – came into play in Game 2 when Steph Curry, with the Warriors wearing white uniforms, threw the ball to Theo Pinson, who was not in uniform but wearing a white sweater with his left arm raised. Curry clearly thought it was a Warriors teammate.
That play in particular riled league officials.
The league is not opposed to players standing, especially after a big play, but it does not want players standing for a majority of the game, especially if fans behind them are unable to see.
Since these bench decorum issues generally have been resolved after the league intervenes, technical fouls have not been used a deterrent, and the league does not plan to start issuing techs during the conference finals.
However, the topic will be discussed in the offseason, and the league will explore ways to address bench decorum during games in real time, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the topic.
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Before the NBA issued Dallas its first fine, it warned the Mavericks to stop the behavior and comply with rules regarding bench decorum.
The Mavs have refused to comply, increasing the league’s frustration. Similar infractions have happened previously, but issues were resolved.
Dallas is owned by Mark Cuban, who is no stranger to fines from the league and also sits near the team’s bench – sometimes standing and cheering alongside players. During his tenure as owner, he has been fined more $3 million, which doesn’t include a de facto fine for $10 million which was donated to organizations that promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence following an investigation into the Mavs’ workplace culture.
Game 3 is Sunday in Dallas, and Cuban does not appear swayed by the league’s fine. He tweeted a video of Nets bench players celebrating plays and retweeted a video of Golden State’s Draymond Green complaining to game officials about a call with Cuban writing, “Our bench is out of control!”
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