Revealed: Words Said That Led to NBA Player Punching Teammate, Getting Sent Home


The final day of the NBA regular season is often a bizarre one.

The strange mishmash of teams that are locked into a playoff spot playing teams that are locked into missing the playoffs can produce LeBron James-esque stat lines from players you’ve never heard of like Theophilus Pinson (23 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, zero turnovers Sunday) and Payton Pritchard (30 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists).

That’s generally because whether your team has locked in a playoff spot or a draft lottery spot, there’s not much benefit to playing your best and brightest at the moment. If you’re a playoff team, health is generally going to be prioritized over winning Game 82. If you’re a lottery team, losing (or “tanking“) Game 82 would only help your odds of securing a higher draft pick.

Either way, the vibes should typically be immaculate for both kinds of teams at this point in the season. You’re either a playoff team or your miserable, non-playoff season is mercifully over. It’s some real “last day of school”-type stuff.

The Minnesota Timberwolves squarely fall into the former type of team. As the 8-seed in the Western Conference, the Timberwolves have punched their ticket to the play-in tournament, and yet: Their vibes are decidedly not immaculate.

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Despite beating the New Orleans Pelicans 113-108 on Sunday, the Wolves were not in a particularly celebratory mood afterwards due to an ugly sideline incident involving star center Rudy Gobert and forward Kyle “Slo Mo” Anderson:

Again, this isn’t some miserable non-playoff team that can’t wait to get to their summer vacation. This is a playoff team.

Have you ever wanted to punch a co-worker before?

So what triggered this ugly episode?

According to NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, all it took for that particular powder keg to blow was a bit of colorful language:

WARNING: The following tweet includes language that some readers may find offensive

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Per Wojnarowski, Anderson told Gobert to “Shut the f*** up, b****,” after the two had been bickering about defensive assignments.

Things had apparently come to a head after Anderson told Gobert to block some shots (one of Gobert’s specialties), while Gobert told the 6-foot-9 Anderson to grab a few more rebounds.

Compounding matters? Rising Timberwolves defensive ace Jaden McDaniels injured himself by punching a wall during Sunday’s game too:

To say that the Timberwolves are a bit of a mess going into their second straight play-in tournament would be a glaring understatement, no matter how much damage control the team tried to do in the aftermath of one of the most Pyrrhic victories in recent NBA memory.

Gobert, who ESPN notes was sent home mid-game immediately after the ugly punch, immediately took to Twitter and issued an apology:

“Emotions got the best of me today. I should not have reacted the way i did regardless of what was said,” Gobert tweeted. “I wanna apologize to the fans, the organisation and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that i truly love and respect as a teammate.”

Anderson, meanwhile, told reporters after the game that he and Gobert were “grown men” and would handle the issue in-house:

Whatever mends the Wolves have to make, they had better make them quickly.

They play a suddenly-frisky Los Angeles Lakers team in a play-in game on Tuesday. If the Wolves win, they will be in the NBA Playoffs proper. If the Wolves lose, they would get one more chance to make the playoffs with a game against the winner of the Pelicans/Oklahoma City Thunder play-in game.

New reports claim that Gobert has been suspended for the play-in game against the Lakers.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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