Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet chose to “save his money” rather than criticize officials after a controversial loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier this week.
That wasn’t the case after Wednesday’s 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, when the 29-year-old delivered a profanity tirade at NBA referees, specifically targeting Ben Taylor. Paraphrasing the tirade wouldn’t do it justice, so here it is in full:
“I’ll take a fine, I don’t really care. I thought Ben Taylor was awful tonight. For most nights, out of three [officials] there are one or two that just ruin the game,” VanVleet said. “It’s been like that for a few games in a row. Denver was obviously tough. You’re coming out pretty hard tonight, in the third quarter I’m getting a bulls-t tech, [it] changes the whole dynamic of the game, changes the whole flow of the game.
Most referees do their best, I like a lot of referees, they try their best, they’re fairly fair, they communicate well, and then you have the others who just want to be jerks. It just makes the game kinda f-ks. Nobody comes to see that, they come to see the players. I think we’re kind of losing the structure of what the NBA is and was. This season is disappointing.
You can look it up, most of my technicians this year were with Ben Taylor on duty. At a certain point you feel as a player that it is personal. It’s never a good place to be. That’s not why we lost tonight, we got outplayed, but it certainly makes it harder to overcome.
There have been certain times this year where I feel like our team is preoccupied with the way the whistle blows, especially after the night we just had in Denver, the way it ended. There were a few calls early on that we all disagreed with, and when I say to my team, ‘Come on guys, let’s play through the bulls – t’ and that warrants a tech, I think that’s kind of crazy .
What are we doing? There’s a fine line, of course, I understand that, but I think the jurisdiction and the power trip we’ve been on this year with some of our officials in this league is getting out of hand. I’ll take my fine if I talk about it, but this is really ridiculous.”
The technical foul referred to by VanVlee was judged midway through the third quarter. It was his eighth of the season, with three of them handed out by Taylor. The Clippers led by seven points at the time.
Frustration has been high for Toronto all season, with the team failing to live up to preseason expectations. The Raptors’ playoff hopes are quickly slipping away as they are six games behind the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets with 15 left to play. It’s looking increasingly likely that the Raptors are destined for the play-in tournament this spring.
VanVleet has also had a frustrating campaign on an individual level. He averages 19.3 points and 6.9 assists per game, but shoots a career-worst 34 percent from 3-point range. He was the subject of numerous rumors surrounding the NBA trade deadline, but the Raptors chose to keep him.
The Rockford, Illinois native is expected to decline his $22.8 million player option for 2023-24 and test for free this summer.