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NBA fines Rudy Gobert $100K for making dollar sign at refs after fouling out

The NBA announced Sunday that Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been fined $100,000 for "directing an inappropriate and unprofessional gesture toward a game official and publicly criticizing the officiating” during Friday night's 113-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What kind of gesture could earn Gobert a hefty fine? Let's rewind to the final minute of regulation on Friday night and see. Minnesota was leading 97-96 when Gobert tried to grab a rebound while fighting off two defenders. It didn't appear to be violent or out of the ordinary, but then the whistle sounded, signaling a foul. Gobert was gobsmacked at the foul, but then the consequences sunk in: it was his sixth of the night, meaning he'd fouled out.

That's when Gobert made a money sign with his hands. The refs really didn't like that, so they gave him a tech on his way back to the locker room.

After the game, Gobert explained the gesture he made was to suggest that the officials' decisions had been influenced by gambling. Via The Athletic:

“My reaction, which I think is truth — it’s what I truly believe — even if it’s the truth, it wasn’t the time for me to react that way,” Gobert said afterward. “I should have not done that. I cost my team the game, and obviously, they couldn’t wait to give me a tech. That was bad. That was an immature reaction.”

Asked to clarify what he believes, Gobert said: “I made some mistakes. I air-balled a dunk. Mistakes happen. Referees make mistakes, too. But sometimes I think it’s more than mistakes. I think everyone that’s in this league knows. I think it’s got to get better.”

Gobert said he fully expects to be fined for his comments, for being “the bad guy again that speaks what I think is the truth.”

But he said he felt compelled to speak his mind because “I think it’s hurting our game.”

“I know the betting and all that is becoming bigger and bigger, but it shouldn’t feel that way,” Gobert said.

Gobert's fine covered those comments.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) talks with referee Natalie Sago (9) after being called for a technical foul in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Friday, March 8, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) was fined for making a very pointed gesture toward officials on Friday. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The NBA isn't the only league dealing with this kind of criticism directly from their players. Every major sports league has gotten into bed with gambling. While it certainly enhances their bottom lines, it opens them up to endless speculation and even direct accusations that any play in any game could be influenced by gambling.

But in this case, this was all on Gobert. The referees were maybe a little bit quick with the whistle on Gobert's sixth foul, but he knew what he was doing when he made a dollar sign at the officials. And what he was doing was setting $100,000 on fire without a match or a drop of gasoline.