OAKLAND – Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson was fined $25 000 by the NBA on Friday, but was not suspended for an altercation with Golden State’s Draymond Green in the NBA Finals opener.
The 27-year-old Canadian’s actions late in the Warriors’ 124-114 overtime home victory on Thursday were reviewed by league officials, with concern Thompson could have been suspended for game two on Sunday at Oakland.
Instead, Thompson was fined for failing to leave the court in a timely manner after being ejected and for shoving the ball in Green’s face with 2.6 seconds remaining in overtime, after being taunted by the Warriors forward for being ejected.
In addition, the flagrant level 2 foul issued to Thompson in challenging a shot by Golden State’s Shaun Livingston was downgraded to a Flagrant 1 after the league review.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said before the punishment announcement that, “I know the league will do the right thing” in Thompson’s situation.
Cavaliers teammate George Hill was also confident Thompson would not be banned, saying, “I don’t think it was a big deal. We’ll let the NBA figure that out. If we’re going to be that petty to do that, so be it.”
Thompson was ejected after contesting Livingston’s final shot to avoid a shot-clock violation turnover with the outcome long since decided.
That’s when Green waved goodbye and continued taunting Thompson, who responded by shoving the ball into Green’s face, prompting players from both teams to separate the two.
“I’m not too concerned if Thompson is going to be available or not,” Golden State guard Klay Thompson said.
“I thought it was unnecessary when he shoved the ball in Draymond’s face. That was very uncalled for. You don’t do that when two people are just talking.”
Another angle of Tristan Thompson throwing the ball in Draymond Green's face. pic.twitter.com/8rch3YbWjw
Many teams simply allow the shot clock to expire in such situations, but the Warriors have typically taken shots.
“I don’t know why I got thrown out,” Cleveland’s Thompson said after the loss. “I contested a shot that shouldn’t have been taken.
“It’s like the unspoken rule in the NBA. If you’re up by 10 or 11 with about 20 seconds left, you don’t take that shot.
“I made the contest, and next thing I know I was being kicked out for making a contest we learn in training camp.”
Referee Tony Brothers said he whistled Thompson because his challenge appeared to deliver a blow to Livingston’s head.
“His elbow is up high and appears he hits him in the head when he’s coming toward him, so that’s why I called the foul and ejected him,” Brothers said.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the team will always try to avoid a turnover, even in a relatively meaningless moment.
“I guess Tristan thought that was offensive,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think that was being offensive.”
There was also no punishment for Cavs forward Kevin Love, who stepped onto the court just before the Thompson incident with Green to protest the call against his teammate.