PHOENIX – Throughout the NBA postseason, the Dallas Mavericks have walked a fine line between enthusiasts and antagonists.
The debate continues after the team was fined $100,000 Sunday for continuing to violate league rules regarding team bench decorum during their loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. This fine marks the third time the Mavericks have been levied a penalty for such violations during this postseason, with the Phoenix Suns at the centerpiece of the other two.
The penalties have inspired discourse about whether their bench behavior – stepping too far onto the court and wearing colors confusing to the opponent – is harmful to player safety and detrimental to the live viewing experience.
“As a Suns fans sitting behind (the Mavericks bench), it was miserable,” said Carter Vance, 24, who traveled to Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals from Texas. “Those tickets cost.”
Sunday’s fine upped their postseason total to $175,000 and marked the third time the Mavericks have been levied a penalty for violations during this postseason.
“As a coach, I love it that the players are engaged on the bench, watching it all, chemistry is huge in this league, and especially in the playoffs,” said Dave Miller, a studio analyst and former NBA coach. “The teams that are connected defensively and offensively are the ones that are playing.”
Miller also understands as a fan, “it can be very annoying.”
“I’ve sat courtside or in the first or second row where the coach is up past the hash, and you’re bobbing your head from side to side, but it’s only a coach,” he said. “So when you have players standing up, doing what Dallas is doing, you know, which is standing up for long periods, as a fan, I see how it can be very annoying.”
Their first penalty came during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Suns and resulted in a $25,000 fine.
“On multiple occasions, several players and a member of the coaching staff stood away from Dallas’ team bench and were on or encroaching upon the playing court during game action,” Byron Spruell, the NBA’s President of League Operations, said in a statement.
In that same series, following the Suns’ blowout loss in Game 7, Dallas was fined $50,000 for the same violation.
The Mavericks’ response to the hefty fines have leaned toward dismissive, with the attitude trickling down from owner Mark Cuban. During Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, Cuban sarcastically quote tweeted a post that highlighted Warriors forward Draymond Green berating an official while angrily storming up the court.
The tweet read, “Our bench is out of control!”
Our bench is out of control ! https://t.co/InNJPhDKuK
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) May 22, 2022
Mavericks forward Theo Pinson echoed Cuban’s sentiments in a tongue-in-cheek tweet of his own that read, “It’s a crime to support your teammates.”
Before tipoff in Game 3, Pinson was approached by an official and asked to change his white shirt. The request came after Warriors guard Stephen Curry accidentally mistook Pinson for a teammate while wearing the same color shirt in Game 2. The mishap resulted in Curry passing the ball to Pinson, who was standing on the Mavericks sideline, dressed in the same color as the visiting Warriors.
“Yeah, I’ve said it now the last couple of days. I’ve got no problem with it as long as it doesn’t interfere with the game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said to reporters before Game 3. “I love the energy of those guys. You can feel their togetherness. So, that’s all good as long as there’s no interference with the action that’s happening.”