While turkey dinners are always served hot, justice is like leftovers: served cold.
On turkey day, the NBA decided to hit one of its players where it hurts — the bank account — and they did it face to face, rather than a sneak attack from behind.
The NBA suspended Los Angeles Lakers’ Patrick Beverley three games for repeated acts of cowardice, the tipping point being his shove in the back of Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton toward the end of another double-digit Lakers loss.
Watch it unfold here:
- Reaves stays on the floor after getting blocked by Booker, curled into a ball, as if he’s actually hurt
- While Book walks off, Anthony Davis and Deandre Ayton talk trash over Reaves. Neither makes an attempt to help Reaves up.
- Beverley comes flying in from behind, knocking Ayton over
- Refs and coaches immediately get involved to stop a larger fight
- Book is charged with a flagrant foul; Beverley is ejected
There’s a lot going on here, but the bottom line is that not only was Beverley’s act one of cowardice but it’s become so common that not one person on the floor — Laker or Sun — overreacted to add to the drama.
Per the NBA, “the suspension was based, in part, on Beverley’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.”
Another of those unsportsmanlike acts was also against the Suns, as they were about to eliminate the Clippers from the 2021 playoffs. The Suns held a 26-point lead at this point, on the Clippers’ home floor in Game 6, and tempers flared.
Video starts at Patrick Beverley’s shove of Paul in the back, but you can see the whole before/after right here...
Beverley never played another game with the Clippers after that. He was traded to the Grizzlies during the offseason, who then traded him to the Timberwolves a week later. Beverley played one year in Minny before being traded again, this time to the Jazz in the big Rudy Gobert trade. Six weeks later, the Jazz traded Beverley to the Lakers.
If you’re keeping score, that’s four trades since the shove of Chris Paul. He’s suited up for only two of those teams. For the Lakers (5-11) this season, Beverley has been objectively bad. He is averaging 4.1 points on 26% shooting in 14 games, all starts. In that Tuesday game against the Suns, he scored more ejections (1) than points (0) despite playing 27 minutes.
The Suns, for their part, declined to overreact to the shove. Why? Because fights get you ejected, and potentially suspended.
Deandre Ayton on a suspension probably coming for Patrick Beverley and how he didn't get involved: "They're not gonna get me there. Me, it's like I got Monty Williams to answer to at the end of the day. I ain't want him to be disappointed in me for doing that nonsense like that."— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) November 23, 2022
Deandre Ayton on Patrick Beverley: "That's the second time he pushed somebody with they back turned. But hey. It is what it is. Like me, I don't worry about it. Hey ain't hurt me. He didn't take nothing out of my pocket and I ain't react."— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) November 23, 2022
Devin Booker put it simply: “I’d have more respect for him if he’d hit someone in the chest.”
Beverley tried to defend himself.
Patrick Beverley on his involvement in the LAL-PHX incident: "Got a person on the ground, two people looking over mean-mugging and puffing their chest out and referees don’t get into it to kind of separate it, control the game so I’m going to stand up for my teammate"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 23, 2022
Of note, no other Lakers ran in to support Reaves, who was writhing on the ground after getting viciously blocked by Booker. Anthony Davis was standing over Reaves just like Ayton was.
It’s fine to support your teammate, but not fine to potentially injure someone with a cheap shot they’re not ready to receive. Remember last year, when Nikola Jokic shoved Markieff Morris in the back from behind?
Looked just like the Bev incident, yet Morris truly was injured and missed the next 58 games because he suffered whiplash from the hit. Jokic was suspended for one game. The hit apparently aggravated a previous neck injury Morris had, causing him problems for the next four months.
No, Ayton and Paul didn’t suffer injuries from those hits by Beverley. But Paul had just recently gotten over that debilitating neck stinger from the Lakers series two weeks prior, and Ayton has periodically suffered from stingers himself. So, injuries could have happened from Bev’s hits. They got lucky.
Both teams move on. The Lakers, without Beverley, face the hard-tanking Spurs tonight while the Suns take on the organically-tanking Pistons. Both opponents are angling hard for a top draft pick in 2023.