There’s no doubt it’s been a frustrating year for the 4-18 Toronto Raptors, but one player, reserve Amir Johnson, let it get the best of him during a 92-74 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night.
After a Portland free throw, Johnson gathered the ball and appeared as if he was going to hand it to referee David Jones, but he refused to give it up, resulting in a brief tussle between the player and the official. Jones then ejected Johnson, which infuriated him further, causing him to launch his mouthpiece in the direction of Jones. Johnson then had to be restrained by teammates and coaches.
Johnson explained later that he has a ritual of rubbing the ball before giving it to the ref between free throw attempts, but of course, that doesn’t excuse the behavior.
“I guess the ref didn’t let me have the ball so we kind of got into a tug of war,” Johnson said via ESPN.com. “No words were really said and he rejected me out of the game and I kind of lost my cool from there.”
He offered an apology later on, saying: “I think it was just really childish. It was something that didn’t need to happen,” Johnson said. “I lost my cool and I apologize on my part.”
Although his coach, Dwane Casey, said it was a very uncharacteristic reaction from Johnson, the league will certainly be looking into the incident and fines are undoubtedly on the horizon for the eight-year veteran. A suspension also wouldn’t be out of the question.
This is just another blow to the Raptors, which are just 1-10 on the road this season and losers of their last five games.