Why does the Mavericks bench keep getting fined by the NBA?

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One of the strangest subplots of this NBA Playoffs has been the Mavericks bench being repeatedly fined. What is going on?

On Sunday afternoon, the NBA announced that they were fining the Dallas Mavericks $100,000 for ‘violating league rules regarding bench decorum.’ This is the third time this postseason the team has been tagged for the same thing, with an escalating serious of fines that now total $175,000.

This is a fine we don’t see often and it’s even more peculiar that the Mavericks have been hit for it so often in such a short period of time. The second time they were fined, after Game 7 against the Phoenix Suns, the league offered some specific details in the press release:

On multiple occasions, several players and a member of the coaching staff stood for an extended period in the Mavericks’ team bench area, stood away from the team bench, and were on or encroaching upon the playing court during game action in the Mavericks’ 123-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of their conference semifinal playoff series May 15 at Footprint Center.

An essentially word-for-word version of that release was also offered for the latest fine, after Game 2 against the Warriors. Encroaching on the playing court seems like a clear problem but the first part of that description makes it sound like the problem is simply excessive standing.

Why is the Mavericks bench getting fined by the NBA?

However, there’s more to it than that. In Game 2, Theo Pinson, an injured Mavs player who has been sitting with his team on the bench, was wearing a white t-shirt, the same color as the Warriors’ home jerseys. According to Steve Kerr, Pinson was waving his hands and calling for the ball at one point, which confused Steph Curry into a turnover, passing the ball out of bounds.

The Mavericks, for their part, don’t seem concerned or particularly interested in settling down their bench players. Per ESPN, Jason Kidd told the media he thinks the league is worried about the wrong thing:

“The league is worried about the wrong thing. You have millionaires cheering on other millionaires. Doesn’t happen in this society. And the enthusiasm of the game, for a teammate to cheer on another teammate is special. And I think sometimes we’re focused on the wrong thing. And so when you look at people who make a lot of money cheering on their teammates or their employees, that’s what sport is all about. And so for us to get fined, that’s cool. It’s going to another good cause, charity. But again, we’re looking at the wrong thing.”

Kidd, somewhat famously, was fined $50,000 in 2013 as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets for intentionally spilling a drink on the floor to create a delay of game while his team was out of timeouts. So all that is to say, it’s not the first time Kidd has tried to benefit by breaking the fourth wall.

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