The Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks played in a rare triple-overtime game in Salt Lake City on Monday but that wasn’t the strangest thing that happened; not even close.
With 3:40 left in the second quarter Mavs guard Delonte West took the game from the NBA court to the grade school playground by sticking his finger in the ear of Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.
The incident happened after West was called for his third personal foul. West joked about the incident following the game saying he was trying to get a piece of lint out of the Jazz player’s ear.
Game officials failed to see the humor at the time and slapped West with a technical foul and on Wednesday the NBA added a $25,000 fine for Delonte’s “West Willy”.
“I made it clear to him that that’s unacceptable,” said Dallas coach, Rick Carlisle on Wednesday. “He’s a competitive guy. I see that as an isolated incident and I don’t see it happening again.”
West eventually showed contrition for his odd behavior saying, “I forgot the NBA is a gentleman’s game, so we’ve got to fight and scrap and do it nicely. Everything is left on the court, though. That’s what it is.”
The Jazz won the game 123-121, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive and getting the last word against West and the defending NBA champions. Hayward said focusing on the big picture is what kept him from reacting during the game.
“I wanted to fight right there, but you can’t do that,” he said before practice on Tuesday. “It wouldn’t have been the smart idea. I’d risk getting a technical foul, getting suspended for the season, whatever. There’s more important things than fighting someone out on the court. The more important thing was getting the win and we were able to do that.”
The Utah Jazz play their final road game of the regular season Wednesday night in Portland.