The Utah Jazz lost to the Portland Trail Blazers last Saturday, but Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson tried not to lose his cool in the midst of the fray. As part of an article about player censorship when discussing officiating, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News describe Clarkson’s frustration with a non-call at the rim during play:
...when Clarkson was on his way up to dunk the ball, he was hit by Jabari Walker and then flattened on his way back down to earth by Jusuf Nurkic. Pinned under Nurkic he hit the court and stared at the game officials in disbelief.
Despite the contact, no foul was called and the game continued on.
When play finally stopped, Jazz coach Will Hardy screamed at the officials and was given the first technical foul of his NBA head coaching career.
Following the game, when asked about the no-call, Clarkson was careful and deliberate with what he chose to say. He wove together words of understanding, frustration, confusion and threw in some well-timed compliments. He had to. Because he knew if he actually answered the questions posed to him with honesty, if he said how he really felt, if he didn’t toe the line, the NBA would hit him with a fine for publicly criticizing the officials.
Todd argues that not allowing players to comment on officiating, either during or after the game, amounts to putting referees on a pedestal, beyond reproach or critique. She discusses the ways that players and coaches subtly get their message across before arguing that they shouldn’t have to be subtle at all.
The Blazers won that evening, 116-111. Clarkson scored 24 points on 26 shots with only three free throw attempts during the game.