The N.B.A. has disciplined five players, including Elfrid Payton and Marcus Morris Sr. of the Knicks, in connection with a scuffle near the end of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Payton was suspended for one game after a testy exchange and several shoves with less than one minute to go in the game, the league announced on Thursday, and so were two Grizzlies players — Marko Guduric and Jaren Jackson Jr. The league said in a statement that Guduric and Jackson were suspended because they left the bench during the incident.
Morris was fined $35,000, and Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder was fined $25,000. Morris was fined, in part, for his comments to reporters after the game, including a remark that Crowder has “a lot of female tendencies on the court.”
The fracas started near the end of a contentious matchup, which the Knicks lost, 127-106. With 48.1 seconds left and a Memphis win already well in hand, Crowder stole the ball, dribbled to the corner and shot a 3-pointer. Payton ran over and shoved Crowder in midair, leading to an exchange of shoves. Morris ran over and pushed Ja Morant, the star rookie for Memphis. Security guards for the Knicks held Payton back.
Payton, who was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul, was unapologetic after the game, telling reporters in regards to his shove: “I stand on that. I’d do it again. It doesn’t matter who took that shot — don’t disrespect the game like that.”
During the game, Morris and Crowder routinely trash-talked at each other. In his postgame comments, Morris made multiple sexist comments. He said that Crowder showed “a lot of female tendencies on the court. Flopping and throwing his head back the entire game. Like I said, it’s a man’s game and you just get tired of it.”
Later that night, Morris apologized on Twitter, saying: “I have the upmost respect for women and everything they mean to us. It was a Heat of the moment response and I never intended for any Women to feel as though in anyway I’m disrespecting them.”
In a statement, the Knicks said: “We understand the N.B.A.’s decision to fine and suspend Elfrid Payton, as well as fine Marcus Morris Sr. for their behavior during last night’s game. In addition, we agree that Marcus’ comments were offensive and unacceptable. While we do believe his apology was sincere, that type of speech does not reflect the values of respect and inclusion that our organization stands for, and can not be tolerated.”