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Marco Belinelli and a Decade of NBA Fines

Marco Belinelli #8 of the Chicago Bulls in action against the Miami
Heat in Miami, on May 6, 2013

Photograph by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Marco Belinelli #8 of the Chicago Bulls in action against the Miami Heat in Miami, on May 6, 2013

Chicago Bulls guard Marco Belinelli made a big three-point shot in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game seven win over the Brooklyn Nets. This was how he decided to celebrate. Yesterday USA Today reported that Belinelli’s “obscene gesture,” also known as the “Sam Cassell dance,” had earned him a $15,000 fine from the league. The penalty sparked minor outrage among NBA watchers on Twitter, including this from Grantland’s reliably excellent Zach Lowe:

And this one from Henry Abbott:

Thanks to the data crunchers at online ticket broker SeatCrunch, we can see just where Belinelli’s “salute to man power” fits in the catalogue of NBA no-nos in the past decade. Of the 341 fines handed out since 2003, according to SeatCrunch, 13 have been for obscene gestures, costing players a combined $240,000 (about $18,500 on average).

Belinelli, it appears, got off easy. The most frequent fine, by the way, is for complaining about referees. This has resulted in 81 fines totaling $2.1 million out of an overall total of $11.5 million in NBA fines. That money ends up getting split between the league and the players union, both of whom donate it to undisclosed charities of their choosing.

The fine leader board shows Rasheed Wallace is tops among players, with eight fines for a total of $205,000; Phil Jackson leads among coaches, with 10 fines and $380,000; and Mark Cuban rules among owners, with 10 fines and $835,000. Going back to 2000, when he bought the Mavericks, Cuban has accounted for 10 percent of the total money paid in fines, with $1.84 million. That’s about 100 lewd dances worth.

Boudway is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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