Popovich, Carlisle Rip Refs’ Union After Coach Accused of ‘Physically Intimidating Officials’

Dan Crawford, Mike Budenholzer
The Associated Press

Following a weekend of football that saw controversial calls in the Redskins-Panthers, Bengals-Cardinals, and Patriots-Bills games, NBA coaches and officials engage in verbal contretemps after an on-court dispute between a coach and referee involved physical contact.

The National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) claimed that Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer should have been more harshly punished after he “physically interfered” with a referee (Budenholzer shown in a more peaceful discussion with a referee in photo). But National Basketball Coaches Association President Rick Carlisle slammed the referee’s move as a mere grab for “Twitter fame.”

In a Tuesday statement, NBRA General Counsel Lee Seham said that Budenholzer should have been suspended for having “aggressively charged onto the floor during live action and physically interfered with a Referee.” And after the coach’s actions, Seham claimed, “We are now operating at a lower level with less transparency, degraded safety, and diminished respect for the Game. Coaches should compete by creating better teams, not by physically intimidating officials.”

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sharply criticized the statement:

The NBA Coaches Association greatly values our working relationship with the league office and our officials. For the record, our association would NEVER lobby for the suspension of an official for a situation like this one that has been thoroughly reviewed by the NBA and clearly determined to be incidental in nature. We view the unwarranted and reckless verbal attacks by Referee Union general counsel as grandstanding in nature, and beneath the dignity of the highly regarded group whose interests he claims to represent. The best interests of our great league lie far above what appears to be an obvious cheap and misguided attempt for a blast of short-term Twitter fame.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich released his own statement criticizing the refs’ move.”I think it’s just a case of an anonymous suit trying to gain 15 minutes of stardom more than anything,” Popovich said. “It’s comical…. A lot of people trying to get famous on Twitter. And I guess this particular suit is one of them.”

Both coaches made a similar Twitter point, which leads some commentators to wonder if they coordinated their responses.

Coach Budenholzer was ejected from the game and fined $25,000 for “bumping” an official during Saturday’s 109-97 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com