Fan rallies and simmering anger over trash talk are a bad mix for Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri—his expletive-laden response to Paul Pierce claiming the Raptors don’t have “it” to put a scare into the Washington Wizards was a costly one.
Ujiri and the Raptors were fined a total of $60K for his verbal faux-pas.
From the press release:
Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri has been fined $35,000 for using obscene language in a public setting on Saturday, April 18 prior to the Raptors’ playoff game against the Washington Wizards, it was announced Sunday by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
In addition, the Toronto Raptors organization has been fined $25,000.
Ujiri used an expletive when addressing fans prior to Saturday’s tipoff against Washington. […] “People want me to say something about Paul Pierce but, we don’t give a (expletive) about ‘it’,” Ujiri told a cheering crowd outside the Air Canada Centre in an area dubbed Jurassic Park.
Pierce, for his part, was not impressed by the GM’s retort, and made it clear that Ujiri isn’t a very good combatant when it comes to postseason psychological warfare.
Per the WaPo:
“I don’t mind playing the role of underdog, villain or whatever you want to call it. I was just trying to help my team win, try to give us a mental edge,” Pierce said. “If that’s the role I’m going to play, I just got to embrace it. It’s not that I’m a bad guy. Everybody knows I’m a good guy. I mean, off the court.”
The (Pierce) comment — which came about eight days before the Wizards’ first-round opponent was set — elicited an angry response from Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan (“I hope I see Paul Pierce”) and a hilarious response from reserve Amir Johnson, who said it was like an “older guy” using Viagra to get himself going.
“Typical Uri,” Pierce said, severely butchering a name he has no interest in learning. “I heard what he said last year when I was in Brooklyn. I can really care less. I think I can play the psychological war a little bit better than him.”
Pierce led the Wizards with 20 points in a 93-86 Game 1 upset.