Russell Westbrook may have felt better after he found out two of technical fouls had been rescinded by the NBA bringing his total for the season down to nine, but on Wednesday night’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets, he received another one for hitting referee Tre Maddox in the head with the ball.
With 3:13 left in the first quarter, the 28-year-old UCLA product threw the ball into the direction of the referee without the game official looking, which caused him to get hit in the head. Westbrook appeared to have done it unintentionally but that did not change the call and he received a technical foul for it.
Thunder's Russell Westbrook drills referee in the head with the ball pic.twitter.com/57PygvLNHG
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) January 5, 2017
After the game, the five-time All-Star gave his side about the incident and stuck with his claim that it was completely accidental.
“I called his name. He turned right at me and then looked away. I don’t know, I don’t know what to tell you, brother. I really don’t. I’m not the type of guy … I would never, ever disrespect the game like that and throw the ball at the referee. I’ve never done it before. That’s just not even heard of in the game before. To get a tech, it’s crazy to me. But you take the good with the bad.”
The game’s head official, Sean Corbin, who issued the technical foul, explained why he came up with that decision and cited a valid point.
“Instead of Russell giving the ball to the nearest official, he throws it in the area where Tre is and Tre’s not looking, and the ball hits him in the face. So that’s a technical foul.”
It will certainly be interesting what the league office will decide on and whether or not the technical will be rescinded or not. Should they conclude that he did it on purpose, Westbrook may also be slapped with a hefty fine or even a suspension.