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“The NBA Fined Me $35,000”: Phil Jackson’s Attempts to Manipulate Kevin Durant by Targeting Him in Press Conferences Wasn’t Appreciated by the League

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Back in 2010, Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers found themselves against an OKC Thunder side that boasted of then-youngsters Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The legendary head coach, even before the series, decided to try and get inside KD’s head, claiming in a press conference that the referees had been protecting him a bit too much.

With the Lakers firmly one of the title contenders, Jackson’s comments before the first-round series led to a $35,000 fine from the league, something he claimed “was not part of his plan”.In his 2013 book, From Eleven Rings: Soul of Success, Jackson went into detail about his mindset that led to the comments.

“Our opponent in the first round was the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that pushed us harder than we expected. To get inside their up-and-coming forward Kevin Durant’s head, I told reporters that I thought the refs were babying him by giving him a lot of easy calls, as if he were a superstar,”he said, citing the number of fouls that would be called against Durant.

Jackson claimed that KD’s tendency to hook his shooting arm under the defender’s arms led to an incessant number of fouls being called. However, comments were not met well by the NBA. While Jackson merely wanted to get inside Durant’s head, the NBA saw the comments as something else.

“Durant got defensive about the remark, which was what I wanted, but the NBA fined me $35,000, which was not exactly my plan,”the book revealed.

While the Lakers coach ended up paying the amount, it all worked out for his team. However, the NBA, at that time, didn’t allow coaches to talk against or criticize coaches in any manner. Interestingly, PJ revealed later that he had no idea about the rule change.

The LA Lakers ended up winning the series 4-2, before going all the way to the championship. Durant himself had good numbers but could not take his team over the line.“As it turned out, Durant had an unimpressive series, but I think Ron’s defense on him had more to do with that than my gamesmanship,”Jackson concluded, claiming that his comments were merely a part of his gamesmanship.

Well, even though Jackson tried to credit Metta World Peace for his defensive skills, the truth was that the trick might have worked. In the end, the former Chicago Bulls coach got what he desired, at the cost of a mere $35000.

Of course, Durant, who had averaged a whopping 10.2 free throws per game, was not impressed with the comments. However, the player was already used to hearing similar comments on his game and did have an incredible tendency to go out of his way to attract fouls.

Phil Jackson was not the only one who thought Kevin Durant was guilty of trying to attract fouls

Durant had developed a bit of a reputation for trying to attract fouls during the initial stages of his career. The 22-year-old had done something similar in a Regular Season win over the Boston Celtics, which initially brought forth a comment from Kevin Garnett.

Garnett had hilariously claimed that the referees were treating him like Michael Jordan, considering the amount of fouls that were being called against the then-22-year-old. While KD did not respond, it seems as though his patience ran out when he heard Phil Jackson’s claims.

Because it’s taking away from what I do,”Durant told The Oklahoman. “That’s part of my game, getting to the free throw line and being aggressive. If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that’s just taking away from how I play. That’s disrespectful to me,”he had said, according to ESPN.

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Durant obviously had a point, and it wasn’t on him if the referees chose to call too many fouls on him. Claiming that the comments were disrespectful, KD simply said that his free throws were a result of his aggressiveness, something which was firmly a part of his game.


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