The NBA has fined New York Knicks forward Julius Randle $50,000 for shoving a referee and Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson, and later refusing to participate in the league’s investigation.
The incident came with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter of the March 4 game in Phoenix, when Knicks shooting guard Evan Fournier drained a three pointer from the top of the key, while Randle and Johnson were jockeying for position to secure a potential rebound below the basket.
After Randle attempted to box-out the Suns player, Johnson launched a two-handed shove to his back — a move that Randle took issue with, and subsequently charged at his opponent after the play.
When a referee attempted to intervene by placing his body between the two men, Randle pushed him aside and delivered a left-handed shove to Johnson’s torso.
Julius Randle and Cam Johnson got into it.
Randle was ejected after the exchange. pic.twitter.com/K5Bh3O7bS7
— ESPN (@espn) March 5, 2022
Coaches and trainers from the Knicks and Suns benches rushed to the scene of the altercation and quickly separated the two dueling ballers — but the damage had already been done.
Randle received a double-technical foul, and was ejected from the contest, and later declined to engage with league investigators who were later looking into the incident, according to NBA League Operations President Byron Spruell, who announced the fine on Sunday.
Johnson, meanwhile, received a single tech, and remained in the game — and subsequently drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the matchup by a single point, securing a 115-114 victory over New York.
BUZZER BEATER pic.twitter.com/kdbApfYPfA
— Phoenix Suns Arg🇦🇷 (@PhoenixSunsArg) March 5, 2022
Johnson finished the come-from-behind victory with 38 points, including 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks, even after a March 6 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, sit at a 26-38 record, which places them 12th in the Eastern Conference, and a daunting 5.5 games out of the 10th seed — pouring cold water on fans’ hopes that the team from MSG could secure a spot in the play-in tournament.
The Suns, meanwhile, continue to boast the best record in the NBA, with 51 wins and just 13 losses.