The NBA has barred the Brooklyn Nets security official who made contact with Milwaukee Bucks forward P.J. Tucker during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals from working the series’ remaining games in Milwaukee, a league spokesperson told ESPN.
The Nets official also will be barred from being on the court during the remaining games in Brooklyn, the spokesperson said.
Game 4 of the semifinals is in Milwaukee on Sunday on ABC. The Nets lead the series 2-1.
The incident happened with 4:21 to go in the third quarter of Milwaukee’s 86-83 win at Fiserv Forum on Thursday, when Tucker and Kevin Durant — longtime friends and fellow players on University of Texas’ basketball program — got into an argument on the court after Tucker fouled Durant, with both players earning technical fouls.
In the ensuing dead ball period after the foul was called, the security official — who is employed by the Nets but has been working with Durant in a similar capacity since before he signed with the Nets in 2019 — bumped into Tucker while people from both teams were trying to “de-escalate” the situation.
It’s common for security officials to try to break up such situations when they come up during games. What made this one stand out was the contact the Nets official made with a player on the opposing team.
“My reaction to it or how did it happen, and to be completely frank and honest, in the heat of the moment I have no idea who that guy is with or who he is affiliated with,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after Saturday’s practice. “In the heat of the moment, you know people are coming to de-escalate things and try to get things under control and not bump and escalate and have things become a problem than what we’re trying to address or de-escalate.
“And in the 24 to 48 hours since, if it’s a Nets security guy and he’s bumping our player and things like that, that doesn’t seem like that’s the protocol and what we’d expect from any type of security, whether it’s Bucks or Nets or Fiserv or Barclays Center or wherever you may be playing. I don’t think you want to bump and escalate things.”
Portis, however, said that while it was “cool” that the guard had the back of Durant and the Nets players in a hostile environment on the road, the security guard “probably did cross the boundaries with that.”
“It’s kind of crazy that he just attacked P.J., pushed him specifically,” Portis said. “Most of the time, team security comes in and gets in between everybody, so probably did cross the boundaries with that.
“But at the same time, it’s just heat of the battle. They’re just coming in thinking it’s them against everybody, so they just had that mentality. So that was cool their security guy had their back in that way, but still wasn’t cool for him to do that in that sense. Should’ve just stepped in between P.J. and Kevin and broke them both up.”
“I know our team security wouldn’t have done that,” Portis continued. “They’d have just stepped in between.”
Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, who said he knows Durant’s bodyguard, explained that while he had sympathy for the security official trying to do his job, his role is to focus on basketball rather than worry about whether the security guard was right or wrong in how he acted.
“Well, I know KD, and I know his security guard, so I knew that was his security guard,” Holiday said. “I guess, for the most part, maybe my man was doing his job. I don’t know. He bumped Tuck kind of hard, though. I don’t know if he’s supposed to do that. When it comes down to it, man, my job is to play basketball, and that’s really not something that I really worry about. I like the chippiness and the talking of KD and Tuck, so I’m going to back Tuck every time.
“Dude rocked P.J. He’s also a big dude, so I don’t know how you’re going to slide through there and not touch anybody. But yeah, man, it’s something I think the league has to deal with and the teams have to deal with. It’s not really my job. I don’t really know how that works.”
When Portis said that the security guard attacked Tucker, Holiday smiled.
“But attacking Tuck?” Holiday asked. “I don’t think anybody wants to attack Tuck.”