Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins blasted officials after a 127-121 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday, going on a long rant during his postgame media session. The Jazz finished the game with 29 free throw attempts, while the Grizzlies had 13. Memphis big man Jaren Jackson Jr. was ejected in the third quarter due to his reaction after what he felt were multiple missed calls.
Jackson was restrained by teammates before making his way back to the locker room.
After the game, Jenkins told reporters to “saddle up” before delivering his message about the officials, noting that he knows a fine is headed his way.
“One of the most poorly officiated games I’ve ever seen. Record it. I’m fine with it. F—ing atrocious,” Jenkins said. “[Jackson Jr.] plays 23 minutes, and is in the paint all night. He’s one of the most professional players in this league, and gets a double technical foul, and the excuse I get is that he’s charging at an official. It’s called de-escalation.
“Twenty-nine free throws to 13, and I’m not that coach. You go back in history, I’ve done this one other time. Our team is competing their asses off — competing their asses off. And this is what happens? The interactions right now with the officials? Complete disrespect. I know what’s coming. It’s unbelievable, the looks on the faces while I’m trying to engage in conversation to defend our guys that are busting their tail right now — busting their tail.
“Jaren Jackson’s one of the most professional guys, and if you go watch the play, two possessions in a row he gets hacked underneath the basket — zero free throw attempts. I’m not trying to put a name on a jersey — this guy should earn these fouls, all that stuff. Watch the game. Twenty-nine free throws to basically, like, there was seven, and then at the end of the game a few more added. I don’t understand it when guys are competing their tails off.
“We got stuff we can clean up. Sometimes we’re grabbing, we’re holding and one’s like, ‘ah man, here.’ In the heat of the battle, when conversations are trying to be had, notice is trying to be made on things that are happening and there’s not the enforcement of it. It blows my mind. What are we doing here? What are we doing? Our guys are competing their tails off. We got to play better. Gotta coach player, we got to play better. But I don’t get tonight whatsoever.
“Again I go back to the interactions. Stern. Nothing. Stonewalled. Ignoring. Then you wonder why our guys are trying to compete. I don’t get it. I look forward to watching the tape, getting responses when I send clips in, all that stuff, to see what should have happened. And you wonder why. I haven’t done this most of my career, all that stuff, but I gotta defend my guys that are competing their tail off. And we’re not trying to lose our heads. We’re trying to go out and win basketball games and trying to play better. It’s as simple as that. We’re trying to play better. We’re trying to play better.”
You can watch the whole speech below, though be warned of the use of profanities:
Any public criticism of officials by NBA players or coaches is subject to discipline, usually in the form of a fine. In March, then-Suns coach Monty Williams was fined $20,000 for his postgame comments about the referees. Jenkins could be looking at something a little heftier given the length and nature of his rant.
The Grizzlies’ frustration goes far beyond officiating, as Friday’s loss dropped them to a league-worst 1-8. Ja Morant is currently serving his 25-game suspension that was issued in June, while center Steven Adams is out for the year due to knee surgery. Memphis has missed both of them, and is looking to crawl its way back into the postseason picture, so it’s understandable why Jenkins would be upset if he feels his team isn’t getting a fair shake from the referees.