Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley says he and his teammates will pay the $30,000 fine their coach, David Fizdale, received for criticizing the officiating after the team’s Game 2 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Conley reportedly said when he heard the coach’s “Take that for data” line, “We told him right away, you’re not going to have to pay that.”
Conley said at practice Wednesday that he sent Fizdale a “thank you” text Tuesday at 4 a.m.
Fizdale blasted the officiating after the Grizzlies’ 96-82 loss to the Spurs on Monday night, calling the work of veteran crew Danny Crawford, Rodney Mott and Bill Spooner “unprofessional” and “unacceptable” before slamming his fist on a table and storming off.
Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said the officials in his team’s Game 2 loss to the Spurs on Monday never gave his team a chance.
Speaking Wednesday, Fizdale said he knew the fine was coming but that it didn’t matter — it was time to stand up — or go home.
“Players in general and coaches pull this card a lot,” Fizdale said. “I’m not sitting here acting like I’m any more original than any other coach. But you’re fighting for your team and you’re fighting for your life in the playoffs, and you just don’t have room to let things go into the next year.
“The series can be over, so you’re always going to fight for your guys.”
Fizdale’s rant went viral almost immediately with one version spliced into clips from the movie “Independence Day.” T-shirts with his quotes “Take that for data” and “They’re not going to rook us” already are available in Memphis, which has rallied around the rookie head coach and a team at risk of being swept a second straight postseason by the Spurs. “It’s been fantastic,” Fizdale said of the support. “I have felt that everywhere I’ve went in the city. The text messages. Obviously, my wife is big into social media, so I get a lot of the social media craziness. It’s been some funny stuff. I got to be honest with you. I wasn’t expecting all that.”
In Miami, where Fizdale was part of four NBA Finals trips and two championships as a longtime assistant to Erik Spoelstra, the already-infamous rant was applauded by Heat president Pat Riley.
“I was proud of what Dave Fizdale did, being a former coach here,” Riley said Wednesday at his end-of-season address. “I don’t care what anybody thinks. I think he went in and fought for his players, fought for his city. I think everything he had to say had truth to it, real truth to it. And he took a hit for it. … I’m glad he’s got some Heat DNA in him from that standpoint.'”
Veteran forward Zach Randolph said the players have Fizdale’s back.
“Everything he said was true,” Randolph said. “He stuck up for us, and that’s the penalty we got to pay. But it’s the truth.”
Conley said the Grizzlies “don’t normally say anything about anything.”
“I think Coach just finally just had enough, kind of got to a boiling point,” Conley said.
The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard attempted more free throws (19-of-19) than the entire Memphis squad (13-of-15). As a team, the Spurs connected on 31 of 32 from the free throw line.
“It’s unfortunate that I’ve got a guy like [point guard] Mike Conley that in his whole career has got zero technical fouls and just cannot seem to get the proper respect from the officials that he deserves,” Fizdale said after Memphis fell to a 2-0 series deficit. “It was a very poorly officiated basketball game.”
“Zach Randolph, the most rugged guy in the game, had zero free throws,” Fizdale said after the game. “But somehow Kawhi Leonard had 19 free throws. First half, we shot 19 shots in the paint, and we had six free throws. They shot 11 times in the paint, and they had 23 free throws. I’m not a numbers guy, but that doesn’t seem to add up. Overall, 35 times we shot the ball in the paint. We had 15 free throws for the game. They shot 18 times in the paint and had 32 free throws. Kawhi shot more free throws than our whole team. Explain it to me.”
ESPN staff writer Michael C. Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.