The NBA fined Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for launching a basketball into the stands after the final buzzer of Monday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, and Irving agrees with the penalty — though he also doubled-down on his criticism of Jamal Murray.
Irving, angered when Murray attempted a last-second 3-pointer while trying to eclipse 50 points at the end of Monday’s game, fired the game ball deep into the stands at the Pepsi Center.
“[The fine was] well deserved," Irving told reporters at Boston’s offday practice Tuesday in Phoenix. "There's a sense of professionalism that you have to uphold within this league, and I failed to do so, so I take full responsibility for it."
Yet even though Irving was accountable for his actions that led to the fine, he reaffirmed his displeasure with Murray's shot, which sullied a night in which the 21-year-old scored a career-high 48 points as Denver improved to 9-1 on the season.
"From a competitive standpoint, I think [the ball] absolutely deserved to go into the stands,” said Irving. "You just don't play basketball like that, and it's as simple as that. You just don't. There's a tradition and a respect within the league as well as within any basketball game. Obviously you've won the game, have it sealed, had a great game - the game of your life, and then you do something like that. It's just petty, it's immature. But we'll see him again though."
All of a sudden, that March 18 game in Boston has a little more juice.
A day after suggesting, “the ball deserves to go in the crowd after a bulls— move like that,” Irving didn’t back down from his critique.
“[Murray] knew. It’s not like I hold any resentment towards it, but hopefully going forward after this, he doesn’t do anything like that,” said Irving. "You’ve seen guys throughout the league, I believe there was an incident in Indiana when Lance Stephenson took a layup at the end where they were playing against Toronto, and it’s just experiences that everyone has.
"You just don’t do that in the NBA. In any game, it’s just a respect for your opponent, and I felt disrespected after the game. So your career-high ball goes in the stands."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t have much to say about the fine but admitted, 'I think that's a pretty consistent fine from what I've been told.”
Irving was also fined $25,000 last season for a profane outburst in Philadelphia. The Celtics won 16 consecutive games after rallying from behind to win that game against the Sixers.
Could Irving’s latest outburst spark the Celtics again?
Said Irving: "We just gotta continue to be better and will ourselves to be the best team in this league eventually."
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