This past May, Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach, Doc Rivers was fined $50,000 for comparing Kawhi Leonard to Michael Jordan. Rivers’ comments came under fire and were ruled in violation of the league’s anti-tampering rule. When the subject was brought up in an interview prior to Sunday night’s game, Rivers defended his comments and blamed the media for making it a whole ordeal.
In a pregame interview on Sunday night, Rivers defended his comparisons and bluntly blamed the media for all the drama. A reporter is heard saying, “but you said it on T.V. though, so it’s not our fault,” in which Rivers responds, “No, it’s the way you reported it, is what was wrong, so it was your fault.”
Mirjam Swanson who covers the Clippers for Daily News posted the interview on her twitter.
Rivers does not deny what he said, but he does point out that the media did not report the entire quote. Rivers’ quote directly compared the similarities in physique between Kawhi Leonard and Michael Jordan.
What Exactly Doc Rivers Said About Kawhi Leonard
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith asked Rivers if Leonard was, “the best player in basketball at this particular moment in time” on SportsCenter at the time.
Rivers replied, “he is the most like [Michael] Jordan that we’ve seen. Like, there’s a lot of great players. … LeBron is phenomenal, KD [Kevin Durant] is phenomenal. Not that [Kawhi] is Jordan or anything like that, but he is the most like him. Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot, he bumps you off. And then you add his 3-point shooting.”
Doc Rivers’ Kawhi Leonard Comments Come Under Fire
At the time of the comments, The Clippers were rumored to have their eyes on the three-time All-Star who was a soon to be a free agent. Due to the timing of the comments and the amount of buzz Rivers was receiving via social media, he ran into an issue with the NBA’s anti-tampering policy. The agreement describes tampering as something that “directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer or General Manager or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services.”
The league decided to move forward with the violation which resulted in a $50,000 fine against the L.A. Clippers. Per The Orange County Register, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke on the issue after the fine was announced.
“It’s something where there’s a bright line in this league, and you’re not allowed to do it. And head coaches or team executives in those positions need to say, ‘I’m not permitted by the league to respond to that question.”
Per theScore, Leonard signed with the Clippers this summer on a three-year, $103-million max deal. The Clippers’ superstar is averaging 29.2 points, 7.6 boards and 6.2 assists this season.