Things can get tense over the course of a long professional basketball season, so it'd be news (or a very good cover up job) if you didn't hear about some kind of infighting, and losing poorly tends to only increase the number of (public) dust-ups.
On Wednesday night, Will Bynum, who has played well in limited minutes over his last 10 games, struggled out of the gate with a strange lineup in the second quarter. Maurice Cheeks was obviously displeased and swiftly pulled the veteran Piston under four minutes into the quarter for the unaccountable Josh Smith. Bynum apparently boiled over.
Below are three different perspectives from three different beat writers about what happened:
Bynum and Cheeks got into a heated confrontation during a timeout early in the second quarter. Bynum was complaining off to the side after he was pulled from the game when Cheeks confronted him. The two went at each other verbally for several seconds before it was broken up.
via Detroit News:
The tempers flared and the frustration of a disappointing game and season began to boil. Will Bynum and Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks began jawing at each other on the Pistons' bench at the 8:52 mark. Bynum, not usually the mouthy type, hadn't had a good run to start the quarter, and Cheeks called a timeout to remove him for Josh Smith, as the score was just 32-28. The two obviously didn't see eye to eye on things, and it took Chauncey Billups and Smith to calm Bynum down as the timeout wound, but the faraway look on Bynum's face told it all - and he didn't hear Cheeks call his name for the rest of the night.
There were fireworks on the Pistons bench in the second quarter. After a 3:01 stint to begin the period where Will Bynum committed a turnover and another careless play, Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks called time-out and pulled Bynum from the lineup. Bynum was visibly agitated with Chauncey Billups trying to console him. As the team back on the floor, Cheeks went over and confronted Bynum and they had a brief heated exchange. Bynum was obviously steamed and assistant coach Rasheed Wallace took over calming him down.
So, as you might comprehend, it's hard to tell exactly how serious and nose-to-nose the exchange really was. It's certainly possible it may have been a heat-of-the-moment type ordeal and not any indication of team disarray (see MUTINY!). But the oft-reserved Bynum losing his cool with the rookie coach is at least a little more than noteworthy, speculate as we may.
The Detroit News updated their story with quotes from Cheeks mixed in:
"It’s part of the game. We had a few words and we moved on," Cheeks said. "That’s it. Nothing to elaborate on. Not the first time I’ve had words with a player, won’t be the last."
It took Chauncey Billups and Smith to calm Bynum down as the timeout wound down but the faraway look on Bynum’s face told it all, as he didn’t hear Cheeks call his name for the rest of the night.
Bynum, perhaps the most brutally honest person in the locker room, declined comment after the game. Even though he’s been on rosters that have had their share of player-coach squabbles, he has never been involved.
"It was my choice. Heat of the game," Cheeks said. "I didn’t have a chance to talk to him yet. I had a team to coach at halftime. I wasn’t worried about Will Bynum at halftime."