Former New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets player Renaldo Balkman was slapped a lifetime ban and a P250,000 (US$6,100) fine by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) for “a prolonged, offensive, belligerent if not aberrant on-court decorum.”
PBA, at 38 years old, is the world’s second oldest professional basketball league.
Balkman’s ban happened as a result of the game played last March 8 when Arwind Santos, a teammate, tried to pacify him after Petron Blazers team lost, 73-83, in tight match with Alaska Aces.
Instead of appreciating the effort, he shoved his own teammate Ronald Tubid and proceeded to wrap his hand around Santos’ neck.
Although the personalities involved later apologized to each other for their ungen-tlemanly acts, this did not stop PBA Commissioner Chito Salud, after listening to Balk-man’s side in a hearing, from imposing penalties on the American import.
In an official statement, Salud said he encourages passion in the basketball game “but I also want to firmly instill a culture of accountability among our players. If one does something that violates the rules and norms of sportsmanship and decent behavior, he will be made accountable.”
Salud, who was just recently honored as the ‘Executive of the Year’ by the country’s largest public relations group, said the “value of accountability is important… to uphold at all times,” adding ”it is key to this League’s continued success, the development of our player’s maturity and to their role as models to our fans, especially the youth."
Primarily, the lifetime ban was due to Balkman’s behavior of “initiating threatening physical contact with a referee followed by a prolonged, offensive, belligerent if not aberrant on-court decorum directed toward game officials and his Petron team mates and superiors, including head coach and assistant coaches, amounting to blatant and utter disrespect for the game, his own ballclub, the League, the fans and his host country.”
The ban makes Balkman, a Puerto Rican-American, the first-ever foreign player or import to get the penalty in the league’s nearly four decades of existence.
After the PBA hearing, Balkman faced the press and told everybody that the court trouble was “unintentional,” saying the choking incident “was done in the heat of the moment.”
“I treat my guys like my brothers,” he said. “I’m willing to make it up, do whatev-er to show that I’m not that kind of guy. Whatever happens, if I’m here I’ll still be part of the team.”
He added he “shouldn’t have acted like that,” and expressed regret, especially that the guy he choked has always looked up to him as an “idol.”
Balkman’s violent episodes date back to his NBA days when he fought fellow players and was involved at one time in a Puerto Rico game where he reportedly head-butted a player from Venezuela.