14 Jan

NBA fines Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic $25,000 after passionate rant about officials

The NBA announced that Toronto Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic was assessed a $25,000 fine for publicly criticizing the officiating after his team’s loss to the Lakers earlier this week. During the lengthy rant, Rajakovic laid into the officials, calling out the free throw disparity between Toronto and L.A., specifically in the fourth quarter where the Lakers shot 23 to the Raptors’ two attempts.

Rajakovic called it a “shame for the league,” and also sarcastically asked “[the Lakers] had to win tonight? If that’s the case just let us know so we don’t show up for the game, just give them the win.” Over the course of the game, the Lakers attempted 36 free throws while the Raptors had 13, but that fourth quarter is where Rajakovic had the biggest issue.

“What happened tonight, this is completely BS,” Rajakovic said. “This is [a] shame. Shame for the referees. Shame for the league to allow this.”

Here are Rajakovic’s comments in full:

Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic with the rant of the year after losing to the Lakers: “What happened tonight is completely BS. This is shame. Shame for the referees. Shame for the league to allow this.”

“Scottie Barnes is gonna be All-Star. He’s gonna be the face of this league.” pic.twitter.com/PQi70uZfzl

— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) January 10, 2024
While Rajakovic was fined by the league, he did have some admirers for his fiery response. Kevin Durant, who Rajakovic coached as an assistant back in KD’s OKC days, joked about how he’s not surprised he was that passionate in his rant.

“Darko coached me for a few years at OKC, and he’s been that intense since then,” Durant said. “And he was like a rookie coach, and he was still that intense. So I appreciate that from all coaches. I didn’t see the game so I can’t really assess how the fouls were called and what really happened throughout the game. People have to watch each foul to really see what it was like. It’s tough, it’s tough being a ref, it’s tough being a player on some of those plays.”

Durant’s teammate, Devin Booker also commended Rajakovic for showing some passion for his players.

“You’ve got to love that out of your head coach,” Booker said. “I know the players from Toronto respected that. You want a coach that cares that much, and is definitely emotional about winning and losing and standing for his team. I didn’t watch the game, I don’t know what calls he’s talking about, but you gotta love that out of your head coach.”

Rajakovic isn’t the first — or last — coach to blow a fuse over the officiating, and while losing the $25,000 may sting a bit, the appreciation he likely got from his players in showing that type of emotion will probably make the fine worth it.

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