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Pelicans' David Griffin Fined $50K for Criticizing Refs About Zion Williamson

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIIMay 9, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Denver. The Nuggets held on to win 114-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin has been fined $50,000 by the league for his criticism of officiating with regard to Zion Williamson.  

Griffin went on a tirade against referees during a press conference Friday, shortly after the team revealed the star is sidelined indefinitely with a fractured left ring finger. 

"He's injured because of the open season that there's been on Zion Williamson in the paint," Griffin said. "He has been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis to the point where other players have said to him, 'I'm going to keep doing this to you' because they don't call it.

"I almost feel like they didn't know how to deal with someone so sudden and so strong. So they sort of threw their hands up in the air."

Williamson appeared to suffer an injury during the team's Tuesday game against the Golden State Warriors, and while he left the court briefly, he returned to finish the game. The severity of the injury was not revealed until the team departed for Philadelphia, when he said he was still dealing with discomfort and a CT scan was performed.

Griffin said he believed the injury didn't stem from a single incident; rather, it was "a blunt-force injury" that developed over time. 

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"There's more violence encouraged in the paint against Zion Williamson than any other player I've seen since Shaq," Griffin said (6:35 mark). "It was egregious and horrific then, and the same is true now."

During his press conference, Griffin revealed Williamson had been dealing with an injury to his other hand "that quite frankly, nobody else would have played through" and should have prompted surgery.

Prior to the finger injury, Williamson had scored 75 percent of his points in the paint, a figure that ranked 16th among NBA starters who had played at least 30 games this season, per NBA Advanced Stats

The injury was a major blow to a Pelicans lineup that was already reeling from the absence of Brandon Ingram while fighting to stay alive in the race for the play-in tournament. At the time of the announcement, the Pelicans were 30-37 and 2.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

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