Knicks SG Courtney Lee believes he was the latest victim of bad refereeing after a questionable technical foul cost the Knicks' comeback late in Memphis.
Crew chief Derrick Stafford hit Lee with a tech at 17.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter with the Knicks down just three before a jump ball. Lee and Grizzlies' rookie Dillon Brooks were exchanging words, but the 10-year veteran swears nothing explicit was said. However, Stafford hit only Lee with the foul, which ended the Knicks' hope to finish their comeback.
"I'm at a loss for words," Lee told The Daily News' Frank Isola. "I wasn't expecting to get a tech."
Lee explained exactly what was said between him and Brooks.
"You got the wrong one, rook," Lee said to Brooks. "You got the wrong one young'un and he said some other stuff like 'who are you.' I said 'you know who I am' and then I get the tech. That was exact word for word.
"If you're going to give a tech in that situation when both of us are talking to each other...we're not even talking to you. It has to be a double tech in that situation. You can't just come over there and give me a tech because you're mad at me about something. There was no violent talk, no curse words."
Stafford, however, had a different story as to what went down. He claimed that "inappropriate language" was the reason for the technical foul against Lee.
"As we were lining up to do a jump ball, Courtney Lee came up to the land and bumped the kid named Dillon (Brooks) from Memphis," Stafford explained. "After Dillon was bumped, I stepped out of the circle and warned both guys to knock it off and let me toss the ball. After I stepped back into the circle, Courtney Lee used what I considered inappropriate language toward the young man, so I called the technical foul."
Many Knicks argued the call including Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., but when Lee attempted to talk to Stafford after the game about the decision to give only him a tech, he wouldn't talk.
"He told me 'I'm done,'" Lee said. "I'm not going to just give my money away when I can't fight for it. And I don't feel like I was in the wrong."
Lee isn't the first to have something to say about referees this season. Former Knick and current Thunder F Carmelo Anthony said he is done with refs this season after seeing how easily they give out technical fouls. Lee notices a significant change in how they have acted as well this season, and he wishes some retired refs would return to the court.
"I don't know what's going on, man," Lee said. "It's different now. I really appreciate guys like (retired referees) Joey Crawford, Monty (McCutchen) and Dick (Bavetta). You really apprecaite those guys when you got them."
With multiple players coming out and criticizing referees, Michelle Roberts, the executive director of the NBA's Players Association, is planning to organize a meeting during the All-Star break with refs and players to go over the officiating so far this season.
Despite the tech and loss leaving a sour taste in his mouth, there was a positive for Lee in this contest. He broke Chris Duhon's free throw record by notching his 46th consecutive free throw made during an 18-point performance.