Everyone knew it was coming. Even Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell tried to cool De'Aaron Fox down following the Kings' 128-112 loss.
Frustrated with losing and the lack of balanced officiating, Fox sounded off Saturday night and it cost him. Monday morning, the league announced a $20,000 fine for Sacramento's star guard for "public criticism of the officiating."
At the forefront of Fox's complaints was the fact that Utah went to the line 35 times, with the Kings earning just 22 attempts from the stripe. When he tried to have a conversation with the officiating crew of Pat Fraher, Michael Smith and Mitchell Ervin, they dismissed him, both in the game and following the action.
“It was god-awful,” Fox told media members following the game. “Mine wasn’t even about me getting there or anything like that. It was calls they were getting on the other end. If you’re going to call something on one end, call it on the other end. And when someone tries to talk to you, you can’t get into your feelings so quick.”
Mitchell, a longtime friend of Fox, stepped in to pull Fox away, but the damage was already done.
“He was talking to the ref, but the game was over and Fox has been a friend of mine since high school,” Mitchell said. “There’s no reason to lose money over a situation like that. The games over, the competitions over, so now, that’s my guy, I’m going to make sure he doesn’t lose money in that situation.”
In the end, Fox knew he was heading for a fine and so he spoke his mind, both to the officials and the media. The NBA doesn't mess around when it comes to public comments aimed at their officiating crews.
Fox is having a breakout season. Despite scoring 31 points against the Jazz, including plenty of aggressive takes to the basket, he earned just six free throw attempts, compared to Mitchell's 17. The Kings lost their sixth straight, which added to Fox's angst.