Erik Spoelstra's Fine from NBA for Criticizing Officials Is Justified

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIMay 25, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 22: Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts to a play during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena on May 22, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was fined $25,000 by league officials for comments related to the officiating in his team’s series against the Indiana Pacers.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reported the news, via Twitter:

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra fined $25,000 for comments about officiating in series against Pacers.

— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 25, 2012

Game 5 of the series featured several hard fouls from both sides. The physical play started after Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough was called for a flagrant foul on Heat star Dwyane Wade.

Immediately following the play, Udonis Haslem was also called for a flagrant foul after a hard hit on Hansbrough. As the game wound down, Heat forward Dexter Pittman became the third player to be called for excessive force after a foul on Lance Stephenson.

Both Haslem and Pittman received suspensions, but Hansbrough did not. This did not sit well with Spoelstra, who, before Game 6, said, "The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main guys," via

The fine is consistent with the league’s policies on criticism of officials, but that does not mean the comments were unfounded.

All three infractions were particularly vicious and undoubtedly deserved to be more than just standard personal fouls. However, if Haslem and Pittman’s were bad enough to draw suspensions, it does not seem fair that Hansbrough got away with his cheap shot.

Pittman was suspended for three games, which is justified given that his foul was away from the ball.

Hansborough swung at Wade’s head as hard as he could and drew blood. There is nothing about the foul that is any less violent than the hit by Haslem, who was suspended for one game.

The motivation behind the league’s decision to suspend the Heat players and not Hansborough may have to do with the retaliatory nature of the fouls by Miami.

In my mind, this should not make any difference. Both Haslem and Hansborough committed very hard fouls in almost identical situations. If Haslem was suspended, Hansborough needed to miss time as well.

Spoelstra was spot-on with his comments, but that definitely was not an opinion worth $25,000.