If the NBA head office has one cardinal rule for all of its employees, it is probably "Do not publicly express the opinion that referees rig games."
UPDATE: Friday, April 12, at 8:50 p.m. ET
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- PA announcer Sean Heath's job safe http://t.co/aJewpMpEaF— ESPNDallas (@ESPNDallas) April 13, 2014
UPDATE: Friday, April 11, at 3:45 p.m. ET by Ben Leibowitz
As it turns out, Dallas Mavericks' public-address announcer Sean Heath won't be suspended by the NBA for his comments aimed at league referees.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon provided an update with regard to the ongoing Heath saga:
"The NBA office rescinded its two-game suspension for Heath, according to a source, opting to fine the Mavericks $25,000 as punishment for Heath's tweets criticizing the officiating in the wake of Dallas' 122-120 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors on April 1."
By having his suspension lifted, Heath will be available for the Mavs' final regular-season game on April 12 against the visiting Phoenix Suns.
"Several disciplinary options were discussed but ultimately we decided to be consistent with past practice on violations of game operations staff," league spokesman Tim Frank said via email, per MacMahon.
The lesson, as always: be careful what you say on social media.
---End of update---
It is the reason why the league invariably cracks down hard on anyone who criticizes the refs. It doesn't matter if you are a star player (good evening, Zach Randolph), an 11-time champion coach (hello, Phil Jackson), or a billionaire owner (welcome to the party, Mark Cuban).
And if the league is willing to go to war with its owners over this matter, then what chance does a lowly public address announcer have?
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the league has suspended Sean Heath, PA announcer for the Dallas Mavericks, over some inflammatory tweets directed at the NBA from Heath's official Twitter account, per ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon.
Heath, whom MacMahon describes as "known for his high volume and passion," took exception to a call made on April 1, when referees ruled a blocked shot on a potential go-ahead field-goal attempt by Mavericks guard Monta Ellis with 16.0 seconds left in the Mavericks' 122-120 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Many observers believed that goaltending should have been called on Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal, which would have given Dallas a two-point lead.
The call had a massive impact on the Western Conference postseason race. Going into the game, Dallas was tied with the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies for the final two playoff spots. The loss dropped them into the dreaded ninth spot with only seven games left to play.
After the game, Heath unleashed his anger, tweeting directly to the NBA's official Twitter account:
While the NBA would go on to rule, via an official statement from President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn, that the refs missed the call, Heath took his career into his own hands by using the "R"-word in a public forum.
Per MacMahon, Heath's two-game suspension will begin Saturday night, when the Mavs face the Phoenix Suns in their final home game of the regular season. Heath will complete the suspension either in the first home game of the playoffs or next season's home opener, depending on whether the Mavs advance. As of Thursday, Dallas is the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, which would give their controversial PA announcer a chance to finish his suspension in Game 3 of the first round.