It’s rare for the NBA to suspend a game official for an on-court altercation with a player. But that’s just what happened on Monday, when the NBA announced suspensions for both referee Courtney Kirkland and Golden State Warriors point guard Shaun Livingston.
Shaun Livingston and Referee Go Head-to-Head (Literally)
The two bumped heads and argued during the Golden State Warriors 123-95 win over the Miami Heat on Dec. 3. Kirkland initially ejected Livingston from the game and assessed him with a technical foul for making contact with a game official. However, after a league review of the incident, the NBA deemed that Kirkland had “shared responsibility for the contact that occurred.”
NBA Hands Suspensions to Both Livingston and Kirkland
Livingston will miss one game, against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. The referee, meanwhile, will be removed from the officiating rotation for one week. Kirkland will be eligible to officiate again beginning Dec. 11.
Livingston’s teammate Kevin Durant told reporters afterwards that Livingston has no history of arguing with the refs. “He’s been in the league for so long, he just plays the game, doesn’t really say much,” Durant said of the 32 year-old guard.
The former MVP also said that from where he was perched, it looked like it was the referee who initiated the contact before kicking Livingston out of the game.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised the league, however, for its unbiased treatment of the incident. He said they made the right decision in suspending both Livingston and the referee.
“It seemed pretty obvious there was some contact and both the official and the player were a part of it, and they are both being reprimanded,” Kerr said. “It was the right choice.”
The suspension came on the heels of Durant’s recent interview with the press, during which he accused basketball officials of having too much power to change the outcome of the game. During Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic, the 6-11 forward was tossed out in the fourth quarter after arguing with referee Eric Lewis.