"VanVleet is right": Stephen A. Smith backs Raptors star's take on NBA refs

Mar 9 2023, 7:58 pm

Fred VanVleet wasn’t happy with officiating the Toronto Raptors’ 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night in California.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith backed up his comments, saying that VanVleet’s ripping into official Ben Taylor was justified.

“I don’t mind; I’ll take a fine. I thought Ben Taylor was f***ing terrible tonight,” VanVleet told the media after the loss. “I think that most nights, you know, out of the three, there’s one or two that just f*** the game up. It’s been like that a couple of games in a row.”

Smith followed up, saying, “Fred VanVleet is right… you’re not coming to see the referees play, and I think it’s important to point it out. That doesn’t mean the players should get away with just anything now; there is such a thing as crossing the line.”

Taylor awarded VanVleet a technical foul in the third quarter, with the Raptors down 64-57, changing the game’s flow for Paul George to sink his free throw. For VanVleet and Smith, it continues a trend of referees overstepping their involvement in games.

“I thought passion was a part of the game. I thought emotion was a part of the game,” Smith said. “You can’t sit up there and let somebody make that kind of decision without giving them a technical foul, or dare I say ejecting them from the game.”

While there’s a high chance VanVleet gets hit with a fine from the NBA for his comments, Smith backed up the idea that fans want to see the best players showcase their skills nightly.

“[The referees] are giving technical fouls and ejecting dudes from the game with no regard for the audience that’s in the stands, or the millions watching on television that want to see them play, no regard for it whatsoever. And when that kind of stuff is happening, I think it’s really, really problematic,” Smith added.

The Raptors remain on the West Coast to take on the Lose Angeles Lakers on Friday at 10:30 pm ET.

Ben SteinerBen Steiner

+ Offside
+ Basketball
+ Raptors