NBA fines Pelicans’ Griffin $50,000 for Zion comments

Sports

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The Pelicans won 108-103. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA fined New Orleans Pelicans executive David Griffin $50,000 on Sunday for publicly criticizing officiating over how star Zion Williamson is handled and making comments the league considered detrimental.

The decision came two days after Griffin, the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, spoke out strongly about his concerns on the amount of contact NBA referees allow Williamson to endure.

Williamson is currently out indefinitely with a broken left index finger, an injury that occurred on a play where he did not appear to be fouled. Griffin said the Pelicans have told league officials many times that they feared Williamson was being exposed to injury because of the way defenders are allowed to play against the 6-foot-7, 284-pound forward.

“He’s injured now because of the open season there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint,” Griffin said Friday. “He’s been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis.”

Williamson is averaging 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. The Pelicans began Sunday two games behind San Antonio for 10th place and the final play-in tournament berth in the Western Conference.

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