TORONTO – When Isaiah Thomas hit the floor late in the second quarter of Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors, victim of a hard foul delivered by the Raptors’ DeMarre Carroll, he didn’t take the matter lying down.
The tiny, high-scoring Boston Celtics guard jumped to his feet, rushed to confront Carroll and seemed to shape his left hand into the shape of a handgun and point at the head of the Raptors forward.
After some pushing and shoving the referees assessed Carroll a flagrant foul and a technical foul, while Thomas and Celtics teammate Jae Crowder were also hit with technicals.
According to league sources, while Thomas was being looked at by the NBA for additional discipline for the apparent gun gesture, he was deemed to not be doing it with any direct intent.
The league has fined players before for gestures deemed as ‘taunting’ or ‘menacing’ but Thomas’ wouldn’t seem to qualify.
Earlier this season Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls was fined $25,000 for making a throat slashing gesture after draining a three-pointer in his first game at home with his new team. Wade later apologized on Twitter. Similar gestures have drawn fines in the NHL and the NFL.
During the 2015-16 pre-season current Celtic Gerald Green, then with the Heat, was fined $25,000 for making a gun gesture and the throat slash after hitting a shot, something the NBA deemed a ‘menacing gesture.’
The league’s sensitivity on these matters is not without some basis. Most famously in 2009 then-Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended by the NBA for making gun gestures during a pre-game huddle in the aftermath of a frightening incident at the Wizards practice facility where Arenas laid out several guns at the locker of teammate Javaris Crittenton with a note inviting him to ‘pick one’ according to published reports.
It was in response to an argument over a card game on the team plane after which Crittenton reportedly threatened to shoot Arenas, who said he was going to blow up his car. After seeing Arenas’ guns Crittenton then reportedly got his own gun and loaded it in the Wizards dressing room, clearing the room.
Both players were suspended for the rest of the season and Crittenton never played in the NBA again. He is currently serving a 23-year sentence for manslaughter after shooting a mother of four in Atlanta in a botched drive-by shooting in 2011 as he tried to avenge a robbery.
Carroll said after the game Friday that he didn’t see Thomas’ gesture but that a family member had alerted him about it by text.
Carroll was shot inadvertently in his ankle during his junior season at the University of Missouri.
The hard foul came after Thomas was seen jawing at Raptors guard Cory Joseph. There have been a number of after-the-whistle confrontations between the two teams in their recent games. Toronto trails Boston by three games for second place in the Eastern Conference.