He may have played it off like an accident (and it probably was), but Russell Westbrook totally nailed a referee in the head with a basketball on Wednesday night.
During a timeout late in the first quarter in the Thunder’s game against Charlotte, Westbrook tossed the ball towards official Tre Maddox under the basket. Unfortunately for him, Maddox wasn’t looking and the took a nasty shot in the side of the head. Westbrook could see it happening as soon as the ball left his hand, but was powerless to stop it. His reaction to the incident was certainly apologetic, but that didn’t stop a different official from issuing him a technical foul.
After the game, which the Thunder would go on to lose, Westbrook insisted that it was an accident.
“I called his name. He turned right at me and then looked away. I don’t know,” Westbrook said, according to ESPN’s Royce Young. “I don’t know what to tell you, brother. I really don’t. I’m not the type of guy … I would never, ever disrespect the game like that and throw the ball at the referee. I’ve never done it before. That’s just not even heard of in the game before. To get a tech, it’s crazy to me. But you take the good with the bad.”
Head ref Sean Corbin, the one who whistled Westbrook for the technical foul after the incident, stuck by his call.
“Instead of Russell giving the ball to the nearest official, he throws it in the area where Tre is and Tre’s not looking, and the ball hits him in the face,” Corbin said. “So that’s a technical foul.”
Westbrook now has 10 techs for the season. If he reaches 16, he will receive a one-game suspension.