Former University of Kentucky standout and first-round pick Daniel Orton had brief stints with the Magic, Thunder and Sixers in the NBA before taking his talents overseas last year. This season, he had been playing for the Purefoods Star Hotshots of the Philippine Basketball Association.
But last week, the 6-10 big man was released after making comments about national treasure Manny Pacquiao’s lack of basketball talent. In truth, the comments were pretty tame. But over in the Philippines, you can’t say anything negative about Pacman—who one team exec literally compared to Martin Luther King, Jr.
The 5-foot-6 Pacquiao, who has a May 2 fight scheduled against Floyd Mayweather and is also a congressman in the Philippines, has been a player-coach for the Kia Carnival this season and scored one point in the victory against the Hotshots.
“[Pacquiao playing] is a joke,” said Orton, who was the Hotshots’ designated foreign player. “… Professional boxer? Yeah. Congressman? All right. But professional basketball player? Seriously? It’s a joke.”
Orton, a 24-year-old Kentucky product who played for the NBA’s Magic, Thunder and 76ers from 2011 to 2014, was ultimately let go by the Hotshots after just three games and then fined $5,650 for his comments.
“Everyone is angry at him,” Hotshots top administrator Rene Pardo told Philippine reporters. “It is like he went to the United States and insulted the name of Martin Luther King.”
Pacquiao has scored just one point in four games this season.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud also issued a statement taking issue with Orton’s statements about Pacquiao.
“This office disapproves of and frowns upon the cavalier manner in which Mr. Orton issued his comments and the unwarranted antics and liberties he has taken with the league and a fellow player,” Salud’s statement said. “This insulting behavior will never be condoned by the league.”
Orton offered this message on Twitter after his release:
I thank God for my time in the Philippines and thank Purefoods for everything. I wish the team the best of luck this conference!! God Bless!
— Daniel Orton (@D_Orton33) February 23, 2015