SALT LAKE CITY — Courtney Lee maintains that he didn’t direct “inappropriate language” at Memphis’ Dillon Brooks on Wednesday night.
Referee Derrick Stafford said that’s what prompted him to call a technical on Lee with 17.8 seconds left in the Knicks’ 105-99 loss to the Grizzlies, but Lee denied it.
“Nothing was said inappropriate,” Lee said Friday morning. “If something was said that’s inappropriate, I would tell y’all. I pride myself on being an honest guy. Nothing was said that was inappropriate and nothing was said that was loud enough for him to hear it.”
As the teams lined up for a jump ball with the Knicks down three, Brooks grabbed Lee’s arm and the two exchanged words. Stafford said he warned the two to stop, then hit Lee with a technical foul. Tyreke Evans hit the free throw and gave Memphis a four-point lead.
After Wednesday night’s game, Lee told reporters: “The rookie grabbed my arm. I said, ‘Get off me.’ He said some other words. I said, ‘Look, you got the wrong one, Rook. You got the wrong one, young’n.’ He said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘You know who I am.’ And then I get a tech. Exact word for word.
“If you’re going to give a tech in that situation when both of us is talking to each other, not even talking to you, it has to be a double tech. You can’t just come over there and give me a tech because you’re mad at me about something. Both of us was talking, no violent talk, no cuss words was even said, that’s a double-tech situation.”
Stafford told a different story to a pool reporter Wednesday night. He said Lee “bumped Brooks” and that he “warned both guys to knock it off and let me toss the ball.” Stafford went on to say, “Lee used what I considered inappropriate language toward the young man, so I called a technical foul.”
Lee said NBA Security and the Players Association reached out to him Thursday and asked questions about what happened. The league said the technical on Lee was reviewed by NBA Operations and that it was the correct call.
“I have no comment for that then,” Lee said. “If that’s what they feel, that’s what it is. I have to roll with it.”