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Cade Cunningham on Ejection: I Was Pointing to My 'People' Behind Pistons' Bench

Erin WalshJanuary 16, 2022

Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Detroit Pistons star Cade Cunningham was ejected from Sunday's 135-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns after picking up his second technical foul following a dunk in the third quarter. 

Cunningham beat Cameron Payne along the baseline and threw down a reverse slam over the Suns guard. He then appeared to point toward Payne before running back on defense, and the officiating crew tossed him from the game for a "physical taunt for pointing at the defender."

Bally Sports Detroit @BallySportsDET

Oh my GOODNESS! That was nasty, <a href="https://twitter.com/CadeCunningham_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CadeCunningham_</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pistons?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Pistons</a> <a href="https://t.co/UMwaYTCUFp">pic.twitter.com/UMwaYTCUFp</a>

After the loss, Cunningham told reporters he wasn't pointing toward Payne, but rather toward his friends and family behind the bench. He also acknowledged that he should have assessed the situation better. 

Omari Sankofa II @omarisankofa

Cunningham on who he pointed at: "I had my people right behind the bench. I went baseline to dunk the ball, and he's right in-between me and my people. I probably should've read that situation better. I don't get into taunting too much, I'm usually chilling after a play."

This is just one of many examples of referees having too much say in games. There was really no reason for Cunningham to be ejected. He and his teammates even looked confused after the play because they couldn't believe what happened. 

Before being ejected, Cunningham put up 21 points, one rebound and four assists. 

The 2021 first overall pick entered Sunday's game averaging 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 39.0 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from deep. He is one of Detroit's most valuable players along with Jerami Grant and will undoubtedly be up for the Rookie of the Year award alongside Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes and others. 

At 10-32, the Pistons have the second-worst record in the league. There's not much hope for the franchise to make the playoffs this season, but developing Cunningham as a franchise cornerstone should be a top priority.

The Pistons will look to bounce back when they begin a West Coast road trip Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors. They will face the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets before returning home on Jan. 25.  

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