By Jason Hafley
Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving made headlines for tossing the ball into the crowd of Denver’s Pepsi Center after Boston’s 115-107 loss to the Nuggets November 5th. Irving received a $25,000 fine by the NBA for his actions and response to Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray for Murray’s shot at the buzzer.
Murray shot 19 of 30 from the field and finished with a career-high 48 points. The guard shot a three-pointer before time expired to reach 50, but was unsuccessful. This decision was unsportsmanlike to Kyrie Irving and the Celtics.
During a post-game interview, Jamal Murray stated that he knew he would play well after the first shot he took. Regarding his last-second three pointer, “I think my emotions take over… when I get going like that.”
He went on, “no disrespect to the Boston organization or fans for that shot. I just had in my mind that I was going for 50 and I think everybody understood that’s what I was trying to do.”
Kyrie Irving finished with 31 points in the loss, also stating how emotions ran high in this close game. However, Irving refused to ignore Murray’s last-second shot: “What kind of competitor wouldn’t it bother …It’s time to decompress and move on. Congratulations to him having 48 points.”
Irving could not move on without explaining why he tossed the basketball, though: “The ball deserves to go into the crowd after a bullsh– move like that, so I threw it into the crowd.”
The heat of the moment can cause poor sportsmanship, but Jamal Murray was a basket away from a 50 points. In his third year, Murray expects to become a star player, and needs these performances to put the NBA on notice.
Taking a last-second shot after the team secured the win is an unwritten rule of disrespect that veterans must follow. As a veteran, Kyrie Irving thought to throw the ball into the stands to show disapproval.
For context, Kyrie Irving has two career 50-point games: a 55-point game in January 2015 and a 57-point game that March. The 57-point game did have two last-second shots in the 4th quarter but they were necessary for Irving and his Cavaliers to seal a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Both players exhibited unsportsmanlike behaviors but I do not believe Irving deserved a fine for his actions. It was a close game with emotions high, a “disrespectful” move will cause any competitor to become frustrated.
Jason Hafley is a Staff Writer for The Comment