The NBA suspended Heat center Hassan Whiteside for one game without pay on Tuesday for his hard foul on Celtics center Kelly Olynyk.
Whiteside blindsided Celtics center Kelly Olynyk under Boston’s basket in the third quarter of Monday night's game at AmericanAirlines Arena, and officials ejected Whiteside after a review of the play. The officials upgraded a common foul on Whiteside to a Flagrant-2, which triggered the ejection. Whiteside was ejected from a game last Monday for tackling Phoenix Suns center Alex Len. The league reviewed the latest incident involving Whiteside on Tuesday and then release a statement detailing its discipline.
“I feel terrible about it,” Whiteside said. “It’s probably the worst 12 hours of my life, you know, because just from the fact that we lost the game, and I let what happened with my personal stuff on the court effect the team. And I even reached out to Kelly, and I apologized, and he said he accepted my apology and he wishes me much success in the future.”
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Whiteside’s cumulative fines by the NBA totaled $40,000, before Tuesday's suspension. The Heat (28-35) currently is ninth in the Eastern Conference, and half a game out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The team plays the Brooklyn Netson Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
After practice on Tuesday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra left open the option for the team to suspend Whiteside if the league did not. In addition to Whiteside's two ejections in five games, he also has been hit with seven technical fouls. Spoelstra said Whiteside was “still a family member even after last night.”
“We’re all in this together,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This is a family matter. We handled it last night, and we handled it today, but we’re all in the same trench together. We’re not turning our back on Hassan. We’re going to correct this. We’re going to do it together.”
The Heat signed Whiteside in November from the D-League, and the emergence of the seven-foot center has been one of the NBA’s more surprising stories of the season. He is averaging 13.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game since Jan.1. Drafted in 2010, Whiteside was released by the Sacramento Kings in 2012. The Heat signed Whiteside knowing there were questions about his character.
“We’re in the playoff hunt, and it was just a terrible decision on my part,” Whiteside said of his flagrant foul. “I just want to apologize to everybody, the Heat fans. I apologized to the coaches, and the team, and everybody and that can’t happen.”