Despite his mild-mannered appearance, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carslisle has proven himself capable of volatile in-game outbursts from time to time. But on Wednesday night, he may have gone too far.
Frustrated after watching his team give up a fast break dunk to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth quarter, Carlisle took his anger out on the ball when it bounced his way, kicking it into the stands. The ball sailed into the crowd, striking an unsuspecting fan in the back of the head after taking a deflection, perhaps off another fan. Carlisle was immediately ejected from the game, but went to apologize to the fan before he left the floor.
"The incident where the ball got kicked into the stands, that can't happen," he said during the post-game press conference. "My intent was not to kick it into the stands. I was trying to kick it to the referee, but I'm not a very good kicker."
In an effort to perhaps deflect attention away from the coach's antics, or perhaps just because he's inclined to do such things from time to time, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban criticized the referees to the media after the game.
"These were officials that have been part of the league for years, and it was just off-the-charts bad," Cuban told ESPN Dallas. "And, if no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens."
This was the Mavs' second stinging loss to the Thunder, who also beat the reigning champs in December on a dramatic buzzer beater.