Just like the players and coaches they watch down on the court from their cozy suites, NBA executives should most certainly be held to a high, professional standard. Which is why Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri was more than deserving of the $25,000 fine he received this week after making an explicit comment about the Brooklyn Nets entering Game 1 of their playoff series last Saturday.
The league had no choice but to lay the hammer down on Ujiri. His spotless record prior to the remark made a slight case for the possibility of getting off with nothing more than a warning from new commissioner Adam Silver. But in the end, the chances of this incident being tolerated, especially during the playoffs, were as unlikely Michael Jordan coming out of retirement once again.
What Ujiri said about Brooklyn simply lacked the sort of class that an NBA executive is expected to carry themselves with. Exclaiming expletives toward the opponent, let alone the area they come from, is not the way the league desires to be represented at all.
Ujiri knew right away that his choice of words was definitely the wrong one, but Silver couldn’t let that be an excuse to let him off the hook. Not only did Silver need to send Ujiri and other executives the proper message about needing to display proper respect for their opponent at all times, but Silver also had to do it for himself.
David Stern had no issue handing out fines whenever given opportunities arose during his storied run as commissioner, and although Silver must create his own identity, he needed to show everyone after only a handful of months on the job that he means business.
Hopefully Ujiri, as well as other executives, remember that before they decide to publicly speak about their opponents as if everyone isn’t listening.