Twenty-five thousand dollars. It's a good thing I didn't get involved. That's a lot of money. —Gordon Hayward
PORTLAND, Ore. — Beware basketball players: The NBA has established a price for actions that resemble wet willies.
Dallas guard Delonte West was fined $25,000 by the league for sticking his finger into Jazz guard Gordon Hayward's ear — call it a "West willy" — during Utah's triple-overtime win over the Mavericks on Monday.
No word from league offices on how much noogies or atomic wedgies will cost.
The NBA called West's bizarre act a "physical taunt." Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called it "unacceptable." Hayward called it an "interesting moment" — and pricey.
"Twenty-five thousand dollars," Hayward said. "It's a good thing I didn't get involved. That's a lot of money."
West received a technical foul for the intimidating and bizarre behavior, which happened after he was called for a foul for bumping into Hayward in the second quarter of the marathon game.
Hayward maintained his composure and walked away from West after the weird act.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor didn't want to comment on his feelings on the play or what the Jazz hoped would happen. He pointed out that all technical fouls are reviewed by the league office and said the Jazz didn't push for further punishment.
"It's not up to me to decide what's just. I just leave it to the league," Hayward said. "I think I handled it the right way. If I would've tried to do something, push him back or said words, it could've been a technical. They could've fined me that money. I don't want that."
Ultimately, Hayward said he and the Jazz got the last laugh by winning.
Carlisle gave West an earful about the incident.
"I made it clear to him that that's unacceptable," Carlisle said, according to ESPN.com. "He's a competitive guy. But your competitiveness has to manifest in the right way. By and large, he's had a tremendous year for us. And he's done the right things. I see that as an isolated incident and I don't see it happening again."
On Monday night, West joked that he was trying to remove lint from Hayward's hair and joked about giving him a wet willy. West's post-fine response:
"I didn't think it was going to be that steep. I mean, that's a whole month's check for me. I probably ain't going to have no cable for a couple of days," West said. "But the way the league is now — and I'm not questioning anything — it's just a play that shouldn't be in the game of basketball."
West said Carlisle also talked to him about handling his emotions better. West has bipolar disorder and his grandmother passed away last week.
"(Carlisle) knows what type of guy I am. I get intense and I get fiery out there," West told ESPN. "He just wants me to channel my energy the right way."
NAME STAYS: New Orleans' NBA team doesn't want to be the Hornets anymore, but Greg Miller made it clear that the Big Easy's basketball squad won't be called the Jazz, either.
"The window of opportunity to change our name closed shortly after we moved to Utah from NOLA," Jazz CEO Miller wrote on Twitter. "We are Utah Jazz. And we always will be."
That window first opened in 1979 when the team relocated from Louisiana to Utah. Thirty-three years later, the Jazz name has become entrenched in Beehive State culture even though it isn't exactly a hotspot for that musical style.
New Orleans' new owner, Tom Benson, said changing his team's name is atop his agenda, and Jazz was his No. 1 choice.
COMING BACK?: Jazz veterans Raja Bell and Josh Howard continue to work in hopes of returning to the team this season or postseason after experiencing knee issues.
Coach Tyrone Corbin would welcome their return because of their combined 20 seasons of NBA experience.
"(Those) guys have been around the league for a while," Corbin said. "They've both been in the playoffs before. It would be two more assets for us to be able to use."
Corbin isn't sure if that will happen, though, and he will wait to see if it does before deciding whether the former starters will come off the bench or start. Neither player has participated in contact drills or play yet.9 comments on this story
The team has not given a timetable for their return nor given updates on the health status of C.J. Miles (calf) and Earl Watson (knee surgery).