Despite his apology immediately following the choke job on a teammate, Renaldo Balkman was fined and banned for life by the Philippine Basketball Association. PBA commissioner Chito Salud explains the heavy-handed decision (per Inquirer Sports): “For initiating threatening physical contact with a referee followed by a prolonged, offensive, belligerent if not aberrant on-court decorum directed toward game officials and his Petron team mates and superiors, including the head coach and assistant coaches, amounting to a blatant and utter disrespect for the game, his own ballclub, the League, the fans and his host country, import player Renaldo Balkman is hereby meted the following penalties: Ban from playing in the Philippine Basketball Association; and, A fine of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pesos (PhP250,000.00). In arriving at this decision, I took into consideration Balkman’s track record as a player, including the head-butting incident during a FIBA-Americas game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela and his altercation with the bench of the Alaska Aces during a pre-Season game in Cebu City. I also took into consideration Balkman’s evident disregard for local and the host country’s sensibilities highlighted by his choking act on-court in full public view of his own teammate who was trying to pacify him. Stiff as it maybe, this decision upholds the tenets of contextual accountability and the over-all interest of the League and the fans. I do encourage passion for the game but I also want to firmly instill a culture of accountability among our players. If one does something that violates the rules and the norms of sportsmanship and decent behaviour, he will be made accountable.”
UPDATE: BALKMAN’S STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE BAN
We just got the following email from Renaldo Balkman’s publicist, Shawn Zanotti of Exact Publicity:
“I would like to thank my teammates, the fans who have given me unconditional support and I adore, the Philippines Basketball Association and the entire Petron Blaze Boosters organization for allowing me to do what I enjoy doing best—playing the game of basketball.
I fully accept all responsibility for my actions, expressed frustration, during the midst of an intense game. I would especially like to apologize once again formally to Arwind Santos as I would never intentionally inflict harm on another human being, especially him, a teammate who I care for and respect deeply. Again, I am sorry for my irresponsible actions. I apologize whole heartedly for acting unprofessional. I obviously let my game disappointment and emotions get the best of me.
This was a life-learning lesson that I will ensure will never be repeated. To my other fellow basketball colleagues, I am sorry. Our industry should maintain the highest level of professionalism during all times.
I thank you all for your support during this time.”