Pelicans’ Griffin fined $50K for Zion comments

The NBA fined New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin $50,000 on Sunday “for public criticism of the officiating and comments detrimental to the NBA.”

On Friday, Griffin said Zion Williamson’s fractured left ring finger, which will keep him out indefinitely, was “avoidable” if the NBA did a better job officiating his franchise superstar.

Griffin didn’t specify when the injury occurred but said he believes the injury was likely the result of an accumulation of hits. Griffin said he was “frustrated because this was avoidable.”

“We told the NBA through every means available to us, through sending in film, through speaking to everybody in the officials department and everybody in basketball operations, that the way they were officiating Zion was going to get him injured,” Griffin said. “And quite frankly, he’s injured because of the open season that there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint.

“He has been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis to the point that other players have said to him, ‘I’m going to keep doing this to you because they don’t call it.’ There is more violence encouraged in the paint than any player I’ve seen since [Shaquille O’Neal]. It was egregious and horrific then, and the same is true now.”

The Pelicans are two games back of the San Antonio Spurs for the last play-in spot in the Western Conference. Williamson, 20, is averaging 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season.

ESPN’s Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.

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