NBA refs call ‘physical taunt’ after Willie Cauley-Stein shoves Terance Mann’s face

Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers

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NBA refs made up a whole new kind of technical foul during Game 3 between the Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers after Willie Cauley-Stein shoved Terance Mann’s face.

With the Dallas Mavericks up 2-0 in their first-round series against the LA Clippers, Game 3 was always going to be a chippy affair. But late in the third quarter of a tight game on Friday, things got physical, and the officiating crew had no idea how to handle it.

That’s not to say a full-on brawl erupted or the refs lost control of the game; no, the reason we say the refs had “no idea how to handle it” is because they literally made up an entirely new rule after things got physical.

When Mavs center Willie Cauley-Stein extended his arm and flat-out shoved Clippers wing Terance Mann in the face, Mann was incensed and chased him up the court. He had to be restrained, and the officials reviewed the play.

Their verdict? A technical foul on Cauley-Stein for a “physical taunt.”

NBA refs made up a new kind of technical foul

Nowhere in the NBA rulebook does the phrase “physical taunt” appear. “Taunting”? Absolutely. Tons of rules on regular fouls, technical fouls and flagrant fouls? You betcha. But the taunting rules are limited to verbal altercations and gestures, not, you know, shoving another man’s face with your hand.

A flagrant foul seemed more fitting here, but one more flagrant would’ve gotten Cauley-Stein ejected. For those crying conspiracy, WCS is hardly the type of star the league would want to protect in that kind of situation. He made clear contact with Mann’s face and knocked him to the ground, and even if Mann embellished it just a bit, he should’ve been ejected after another flagrant.

This is one the officials just plain missed or avoided, either because they were tired and wanted to avoid an ejection, or because they thought a technical would suffice and just decided “physical taunt” sounded fine in their heads.

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