In the summer of 2015, rookie Montrezl Harrell was drafted in the second round to the Houston Rockets. Harrell has made a few appearances with the Rockets this season but has spent the majority of the time playing with the Rio Grande Valley D-League team as is customary with first-year players. In the final seconds of the March 26th game against Bakersfield, Harrell got into an altercation with opposing player Derek Cooke Jr. and ultimately ended up shoving an NBA official to the ground.
Players Cooke and Harrell were underneath the basket as the end-of-game buzzer sounded when Cooke forcefully shoved Harrell. Cooke quickly backed up and a couple of Bakersfield players appeared to restrain Harrell who attempted to shove Cooke back but ended up shoving an official to the ground instead. Cooke and Harrell found their way off the court relatively quickly and a brief and unclear squabble continued amongst the remaining players. The teams did not shake hands.
Lee Seham, National Basketball Referees Association general counsel, made a statement saying, “After carefully reviewing videotape and related evidence concerning this incident, we have reached the inescapable conclusion that Harrell committed a deliberate assault and battery against Referee Goldenberg. Anything less than a multiple game suspension would constitute a green light for violence against officials.”
Playing with D-League players can be tricky considering that might be their final stop so behaviorally, anything goes. Unfortunately, Harrell, who has shown his NBA potential, got caught up in the moment and will be held to a higher standard as suspension looms in his future. However, the NBRA claims of “deliberate assault and battery” are so far from the truth. The truth is the ref caught some hands that weren’t intended for him. The moral of the story is peacemakers catch hands too. Well…that or no fighting on the court.