Raptors guard Fred VanVleet fined $30,000 for criticizing officials

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has been fined $30,000 for officiating comments following Wednesday’s 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

VanVleet chose to “save his money” instead of criticizing officials after a controversial loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier this week.

That was not the case on Wednesday, when the 29-year-old delivered a profane tirade against NBA referees, specifically targeting Ben Taylor. Paraphrasing the rant wouldn’t do it justice, so here it is in full:

“I’ll take a fine, I don’t care. I thought Ben Taylor was terrible tonight. Most nights out of the three (officials) there’s one or two who f— the game up, ” said VanVleet. “It’s been like that a few games in a row. Denver has been tough, obviously. You come out tonight competing pretty tough, in the third quarter I get a bulls—t tech, (it) changes the whole dynamic of the game, changes the whole flow of the game.

Most refs try hard, I like a lot of refs, they try hard, they’re pretty fair, they communicate well, and then you have the others who just want to be assholes. It’s just kinda f—ks the game. Nobody comes to see this shit, they come to see the players. I think we’re losing some of the fabric of what the NBA is and was. It’s disappointing this season.

You can look it up, most of my techs this year have served under Ben Taylor. At some point, as a player, you feel it’s personal. It’s never a good place to be. That’s not why we lost tonight, we were outplayed but it’s definitely more difficult to overcome.

There were certain times this year where I felt our team was absorbed in how the whistle was going, especially after the night we just had in Denver, the way it ended. There were a few calls early on that we all disagreed with, and if I say to my team “Come on guys, let’s keep playing through the bulls – t” and that justifies a tech, I think that’s a little crazy.

what are we doing? There’s a fine line, obviously, I understand that, but I think the jurisdiction and the power trip that we’ve had this year with some of our officials in this league is spiraling out of control. I’ll take my fine for talking about it, but it’s f—ing ridiculous.”

Fred VanVleet (23) is clearly not a fan of the way Ben Taylor (46) officiates.  (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Fred VanVleet (23) is clearly not a fan of the way Ben Taylor (46) officiates. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The technical foul VanVleet referred to was penalized midway through the third quarter. It was his eighth of the season, with three of them distributed by Taylor. The Clippers led by seven points at the time.

Frustration has been high throughout the season for Toronto as the team failed to meet pre-season expectations. The Raptors’ playoff hopes are quickly dwindling as they trail the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets by six games with 15 remaining. It seems increasingly likely that the Raptors are destined for the play-in tournament this spring.

VanVleet also had a frustrating campaign from an individual standpoint. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 6.9 assists per game, but is shooting a career-worst 34% from 3-point range. He was widely rumored around the NBA trade deadline, but the Raptors opted to keep him.

The Rockford, Ill., native is expected to decline his $22.8 million player option for 2023-24 and test free agency this summer.

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