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Report: Raptors complained to league multiple times about Clippers tampering with Kawhi Leonard

2019 NBA Finals - Game One

TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors reacts against the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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The Clippers got fined for tampering, because Clippers coach Doc Rivers compared Raptors star Kawhi Leonard to Michael Jordan. Rivers’ comments seemed innocent enough, coming while working as a TV analyst and without himself bringing up Leonard.

But they also fit a larger pattern.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

The NBA’s tampering rules remain vague and arbitrarily enforced.

If the Clippers were fined for a collection of transgressions, the league should have announced that. Citing only Rivers’ remarks has two major consequences:

1. It inspires perception of unfairness. Many coaches, who are are required to hold pre- and post-game press conferences, have complimented opposing players like this without getting publicly fined. (The NBA doesn’t announce every fine.)

2. It has a chilling effect. Fans are served by coaches publicly analyzing the game. That’s why the league requires those pre- and post-game press conferences. Now, coaches might be overly careful to the point they say nothing at all.

Maybe the Clippers deserved a fine for tampering. Toronto obviously thought so. But this was a poor way to draw the line.