The NBA announced today that it levied a $25,000 fine against Milwaukee Bucks guard O.J. Mayo for "aggressively pursing" an official and "failure to leave the court in a timely manner" after his early ejection from the Bucks' 95-85 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Mayo was issued a pair of technical fouls for arguing with an official and had to be restrained after being ejected:
Mayo now has five technical fouls on the season and an ejection to boot, matching his teammate Khris Middleton. Middleton was ejected in the closing minutes of Milwaukee's loss to the Dallas Mavericks a week ago, again for a pair of technical fouls drawn after arguing with officials.
After the game, Mayo apologized for his overreaction and cited his frustration with the Bucks' inability to draw whistles. That notion has been popping up more often recently, though it's nearly always a passive complaint of small-market teams who lack the star power thought of as a prerequisite for officiating respect. For what it's worth, the Bucks' currently rank 23rd in free throw attempts per field goal attempt, and 24th in free throw attempts per 100 possessions. Does that mean Mayo is right, and the Bucks are in fact getting hosed by poor officiating more often than other teams?
That's a very tough thing to quantify. Four of the top five teams in FT/100 poss. make perfect sense: the Clippers, Rockets, Raptors, and Thunder, outfits that boast the type of players who make a living at the free-throw line. But the #4 team is the Timberwolves, who I'd have a hard time differentiating from the Bucks in terms of "star power" and demanded respect from officials. There isn't even an obvious correlation between shot profiles: one might think that the Bucks, who take a higher percentage of their shots within three feet than any other team, put themselves in position to get fouled more. And that might be true, but it's hard to square with the fact that the #2 FT-shooting team, the Clippers, is dead last in that same shot distribution metric. Maybe the Clippers get fouled so much that it artificially makes it seem like they're not taking very many shots at the rim, but that feels awfully extreme.
Anyway, the important point here is that O.J. Mayo freaked out at something that everybody complains about, and whether or not his complaint holds water, his reaction was uncalled for. If the Bucks get a bit more respect from refs going forward, it'll be a nice surprise, but more likely Mayo's pockets will be a big lighter with little to show for it.