Following a $35,000 fine for what the NBA deemed “the unsportsmanlike act of pushing a person with a camera” during Wednesday night’s loss to the Miami Heat at the Miami-Dade Arena, Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks said the act was unintentional.
Addressing the incident for the first time when the Grizzlies hosted the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, Brooks said he plans to reach out to the cameraman, who is an attendee at Heat home games working as an independent contractor for Bally Sports.
“It was unintentional,” Brooks said of the otherwise unfolding incident as he scrambled unsuccessfully to the center field sideline to keep a ball from going out of bounds. “I ran at full speed. I didn’t want to hurt him in any way possible. I’m not that kind of person.
“I’ll call him tomorrow to check on him and see how he is.”
Brooks did not say whether he would appeal the fine. Brooks, 27, is in the final year of a three-year, $35 million contract that pays $11.4 million this season.
“But, you know, it’s a bad situation,” Brooks said, “and whatever the NBA’s done is what they’ve done. But I’m not that kind of person. I play hard.”
The Heat next play at home Wednesday night at Miami-Dade Arena against the New York Knicks after wrapping up a two-game road trip Sunday night against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
The cameraman in the incident, Terry Swann, declined to comment to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. A spokesman for Bally Sports declined to comment on the incident.
Following the NBA fine, Heat broadcaster Jason Jackson posted a rebuke to Brooks on Twitter.
“I rarely comment on these things,” Jackson posted, “BUT this is personal. Our veteran camera operator @BallyHeat was injured and remains under evaluation.
“The fine was appropriate, but the maximum would have felt like a shred of justice after the disregard for another human being – an incredible one at that.”
Brooks’ play came with 2:40 left in the second quarter of what turned into a 138-119 Grizzlies loss.
Following the Heat’s drop in the NBA’s defensive rankings since the All-Star break, coach Erik Spoelstra said it was the detail, not the personnel, that was lacking.
“We’re going to support everything,” he said before the game against the Pistons. “That’s it. We’re going to back him up. We’re capable of being a lot better defensively.
“It’s the same guys, the same people. I mean, we had a top-four defense before the All-Star break. It’s costly when we don’t defend with such effort as we did in the second half [of Saturday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls].”
The Heat’s major rotation move since the All-Star break was inserting trade deadline acquisition Kevin Love into the starting lineup and moving Caleb Martin to the bench.
Following the loss in Chicago, the Heat played down a lack of focus against teams with losing records.
“I think it’s the NBA, as a league. We have good teams,” forward Jimmy Butler said. “You can’t always look at somebody’s record and go, ‘Wow, that team should beat them.’
“You can get beat by anybody on any night and we’ve shown that’s happened to us all year. But what can we do now? Let’s try to win as many games as we can going forward.”
Butler said it’s not about arrogance.
“I don’t think we’re better than anybody,” he said. “I think we have to compete for it and when we deserve to win, we will win. If we don’t deserve to win, we won’t win.”
Guard Max Strus said it’s about focus.
“At the end of the day,” he said. “It’s the NBA and everyone is talented. Everybody’s a good team when they’re making shots.”