National Basketball Association

Luka Doncic's ejection casts spotlight on Dallas Mavericks star's antics with refs

2 days ago

"The Matador," "Cool Hand," "Wonderboy," "Baby Bird" ... "Crybaby"?

Luka Doncic has a long list of nicknames that keeps on growing — but not necessarily in a positive direction.

The Dallas Mavericks sensation has a growing reputation as a complainer, and an ejection in the closing seconds of Sunday night's loss to the Sacramento Kings only added fuel to that fire.

Doncic picked up his second technical foul with 31 seconds left in Sunday's game, resulting in an ejection. He received his first tech earlier in the second half.

Officiating crew chief Rodney Mott explained the decision for both technical fouls in a pool report:

"The first technical foul was called after a correct call, offensive foul, and in transition he runs past me and he screams ‘hell no’ as he shakes his fist. Which is a disrespectful response to a referee, that is unsportsmanlike," Mott said, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

"The second technical foul was called for throwing the ball due to frustrations of a call. Throwing the ball, the length of the court in an overt manner which is also an unsportsmanlike technical foul."

In his postgame interview, Doncic appeared befuddled by the ejection, saying he didn't say anything to the referee.

"No, but I guess when it was timeout, I threw the ball to the basket," Doncic said. "I guess it was because of that. But if you get a tech for that, I don’t know."

As for the first technical, Doncic's story matched up with Mott's account.

"It was [an] offensive foul. I was like, 'Hell, no,'" Doncic said. "He told me I cannot tell him 'Hell, no.' But maybe I can tell it to others, but to him, no, and that's why I got a tech."

Doncic wasn't the only one sent for an early shower.

His head coach, Rick Carlisle, also got the boot for picking up his second technical foul of the game. Both of his technicals coincided with Doncic's.

"Look, I set a poor example tonight by getting two myself," Carlisle said. "So that’s on me. I apologized to the team after the game for it, too. It’s not the right example."

The loss dropped the fifth-seeded Mavericks to 36-28 on the season, narrowly ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers by virtue of tiebreakers.

One of those teams will likely finish seventh in the Western Conference, and thus have to compete in the play-in tournament to enter the larger playoff bracket.

Compounding that concern is that Doncic's double-dip of technical fouls Sunday put him at 15 for the season, one away from an automatic one-game suspension.

Doncic said he planned to appeal both technical fouls from Sunday, but the league upheld the fouls. Now, he'll have to be on his best behavior to avoid being suspended during a crucial run for the Mavs.

The constant run-ins with referees have Skip Bayless of "Undisputed" all but fed up. He designated the 22-year-old the "biggest crybaby in the league."

That's a moniker Doncic is unlikely to be fond of and might want to change.

Given his track record, that might be easier said than done. He's second in the league, with 15 technical fouls, and his reputation of being overly animated with referees is well-documented

"I know a lot of times I'm wrong," Doncic said in 2019. "Persons are wrong sometimes, and I've just got to learn to calm myself down and go to the next play."

Since that ESPN article was published on Dec. 9, 2019, Doncic is tied for third in the league with 21 technical fouls.

The good news for Doncic is there are plenty of years ahead for him to rewrite the book on his relationship with referees.

If he can change the narrative, he might even get a new nickname out of it.

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