Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was ejected from Monday's game against the Chicago Bulls for picking up a second technical foul late in the third quarter. Here's video we linked to in our earlier post:
Now that I've had a chance to re-watch the game, what you don't see in this video are two things:
1) The no call that KCP is upset about. KCP thought he was fouled on the previous offensive possession. With the shot clock running out, KCP made a desperate drive to the basket and put up an ugly shot attempt. Pau Gasol appeared to get him on the arm, maybe some body, but it was all kind of weak and KCP wasn't exactly in control. KCP fell to the ground, threw up his arms in disgust at referee David Jones for not blowing the whistle and then got up and hustled back to play the kind of overly-aggressive, frustration defense you often see when a player is upset about not getting a call on the other end of the floor. Sure enough, KCP was whistled for a foul (by another referee) and then walked across the court to let Jones know about his blown call.
On the Pistons feed, the cameras were on KCP when he said whatever it was that got him T'd up, and it didn't look like much. But Jones was the one who whistled KCP for a tech earlier in the quarter, so the ice (and skin) was thin.
2) After KCP was hit with a technical foul, it looked a lot like he didn't realize it. As KCP was hanging around the Pistons' bench, Stan Van Gundy relayed the message to KCP that he was gone and, as KCP was walking away, SVG threw in what looks an awfully lot like a derisive, "Nice job." In other words, not a nice job, you idiot. KCP heard this and immediately turned around and shouted some things in SVG's direction. It's not clear what KCP's saying, but it's very clear he's not happy with SVG in that moment. Even Brandon Jennings has a look on his face like, "C'mon, coach," before he escorts KCP away. KCP turned back a couple times as he was walking off the court and he wasn't yapping only in David Jones' direction. The cameras would ultimately switch back to a still-seething SVG, who appeared to say at least one more thing to KCP as he was walking away.
After the game, KCP didn't speak to the media (because he was long gone) and SVG's only elaboration on the ejection was that "It wasn't good."
Reggie Jackson actually had the most telling quote about what happened (via MLIVE, emphasis mine):
"I felt like it was a bad call, unfortunately," Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson said. "I'm not sure what he was thinking, if he felt like it was just him out there. I think he wants to feel like somebody has his back. He's very feisty, he plays hard all the time.
"KCP just wants somebody to have his back. That's about it. I got it -- but I think he knows better. We already talked about it, but I think he'll learn from it."
It's not hard to read between the lines of what Jackson thinks after speaking with KCP: KCP wanted SVG to have his back.
This is common in sports. To a certain extent, athletes expect their coaches to have their back, especially in arguments with referees or umpires. A big reason for this is because the coaches have more leeway and the players should be focusing on their play, not distracting themselves by tactfully arguing calls and debating around the possibility of hurting the team by getting a technical or worse ejected. Obviously a lot of professional athletes don't adhere to this line of thinking...
But imagine normally shy and hard-working KCP getting so upset at the refs that he gets ejected for the first time in his career and his boss is dogging him as he's walking away instead of at least questioning the refs as to how they could be so wrong to T up quiet KCP not once but twice in the same frickin' quarter of a close game. For all the jumping up and down and yelling and voicecracking SVG does on the sidelines, I'm guessing after KCP blew his own top for once, he didn't expect his coach to respond the way he did. In the heat of the moment, you can understand why KCP wasn't happy with SVG, especially after that gratuitous "nice job" comment. (Or maybe I understand KCP because I've been in his shoes before -- much smaller, 9th grade basketball shoes, what up?)
These sort of things happen, though, and often times they amount to nothing more than the heat of the moment. But sometimes, sometimes, these heat of the moment type things can find a way to fester and no longer stay in the moment. Lucky for SVG, he's also the Pistons' President of Basketball Operations, so he shouldn't have much to worry about in the way of his team turning on him to get the attention of ... him, somebody who ultimately decides if he truly has their back.
It should be all water under the bridge by Wednesday in Houston, or we could have a problem... (See what I did there? What up, Tom Hanks?)
Now your thoughts.