For all its steps forward (like banning Donald Sterling for life from the NBA), the Association has its share of steps backwards. Yesterday the NBA announced that it had fined Dwyane Wade $25,000 for making a throat slashing gesture during an NBA game against the Boston Celtics. The gesture came after Wade hit a three-point shot that essentially sealed the victory for the Chicago Bulls. The fine joins other fines that the NBA has issued against players and their celebrations like finger-guns firing or having imaginary big balls. Wade later tweeted an apology regarding the gesture.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I wanna apologize to my young fans on my gesture at the end of last nights game. I was caught up in the emotions of my first game at home.</p>— DWade (@DwyaneWade) <a href="https://twitter.com/DwyaneWade/status/792042816218271744">October 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
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But whether he should feel sorry for making that gesture remains a question. If the NFL has shown anything this year, aside from terrible prime time games, it is how over-policing celebrations can turn off fans (and players) and turn a popular product into the No Fun League. To its credit, the NBA has tried to promote itself as an open minded community. It moved the All-Star Game from Charlotte as a way of showing its displeasure towards North Carolina’s bathroom law. It condoned players wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts even though it may have skirted rules requiring players to wear Adidas apparel.
But the Association has apparently drawn a line on the kinds of in-game celebrations that it is willing to tolerate... Seriously Mr. Silver, no one thinks Dwyane Wade was encouraging kids everywhere to slit throats. It’s okay to loosen up. And while we’re at it, let Stan Van Gundy wear his turtlenecks again. The world will not end and no one will think lowly of the Association.