Refs Eject Carmelo Anthony For Making A Layup

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

The Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night, 103-99. It certainly didn’t help that they were without Carmelo Anthony for the crucial final 16 minutes of play.

But if Anthony didn’t want to get ejected, he … he shouldn’t have scored this layup with four minutes to go in the third quarter?

Anthony was assessed a flagrant-2 foul for the play, earning an automatic ejection.

NBA players and former NBA players couldn’t believe their eyes.

“We deemed that the contact was excessive and that it was not a natural basketball move where he seeks out Nurkic, hits him in the face with an elbow and goes back to the basket,” said officiating crew chief Rodney Mott after the contest. “So because it’s unnatural and it’s deemed excessive, therefore it is a (Flagrant 2).”

Yeah, Melo caught Jusuf Nurkic right in the face with an elbow. And yeah, he drove into the big man instead of going straight up into the hoop. But to say that isn’t a basketball move, save for the elbow-to-face contact, is a travesty. Any coach at any level will tell you a smaller player’s driving into a bigger shot-blocker’s chest to avoid getting swatted is the textbook approach when going up for a layup in such a situation—unless you truly believe the All-Star thought to himself, mid-drive, “I should probably try and injure someone during my attempt to score.”

If Melo goes straight to the hoop for a layup, Nurkic blocks it.

Joe Borgia, the league’s senior vice president of officiating, also deemed Melo’s shot an “unnatural act”—which is a pretty terrible argument considering he made the layup. He executed a basketball move, it worked, and he got penalized for it.

“I don’t have no thoughts,” Anthony said after the game. “I don’t have anything to say about that play. I think the league will do what’s right.”

Head coach Billy Donovan was also displeased with the officiating: “I’ve never seen in the history of the game a guy get an and-1 play and then get ejected from the game. That’s probably something you’ve got to talk to the league about.”