Charlotte, N.C. • Even before the NBA handed down a massive fine that would make anyone feel contrite, Rodney Hood was sorry for what he had done.
In the heat of the moment after being ejected on two technical fouls Wednesday night, the fourth-year guard smacked a phone out of a fan’s hand as he left Washington’s Capital One Arena. After the fan, sitting courtside, spent much of the fourth quarter talking with security officials, Hood said he wanted to make it right.
“I apologized to the man,” he said on Friday night, prior to tipoff against the Charlotte Hornets. “It wasn’t intentional. I regret it. You just learn from it and move on from it.”
Such a moment is rare for Hood, who has been assessed only five technical fouls in his career. But it will cost: The NBA announced Friday afternoon that it will fine him $35,000 for the slap. Ejections also are a $2,000 fine.
It is one of the league’s largest fines so far this season. Boston’s Kyrie Irving and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Austin Rivers previously were fined $25,000 for heated interactions with fans involving foul language.
Hood’s hot moment was fed by his frustration with two technical fouls during a win over the Wizards. On the first, he felt that when teammate Ricky Rubio was pushed into him shortly before halftime, he was at risk of injury. On the second, he wanted the referee to call contact on a drive to the rim.
Coach Quin Snyder didn’t absolve Hood, but he said he understood his frustration.
“Those things happen,” he said. “You can sit here and say, ‘Hey, I’d like for you to deal with it this way, or deal with it that way.’ Sometimes the situation dictates it. You’re emotional. It happens to me.”
Gobert, Neto back in practice
Injury news has rarely felt positive for the Jazz this season, but here’s a hopeful note: Rudy Gobert and Raul Neto are both back in non-contact portions of practice.
Gobert has missed 13 games in his latest stretch (knee) and Neto has missed 15 (concussion/knee). In Gobert, the Jazz are looking for their franchise defensive centerpiece, while Neto has been a helpful backcourt backup when he’s been healthy. Simply having them on the court is a relief, Snyder said.
“It’s good to see: There’s life,” he said. “Even noncontact stuff, we’re able to do more than when we only have nine guys. Even if you’re just passing it around, or shooting free throws, or whatever you’re doing, having those bodies is good. It’s good having the enthusiasm of those two guys and what they mean to our team.”
Charlotte’s Clifford on road to recovery
The Hornets also got good health news this week: Steve Clifford, the team’s 56-year-old coach, is nearing a return to the sideline after missing the last month with headaches and other stress-related health issues.
Interim coach Stephen Silas said the locker room was excited to receive the good news. So was Snyder, who said he considers Clifford “a friend.”
“You’re concerned when someone’s health is in question, whether it’s short-term, long-term, regardless of the case,” he said. “You’re overall just happy he’s doing better. I think it’s common. The extremes aren’t as common; it’s part of the job. For all of us, we have to try to fight it, and balance what you’re doing professionally and what you’re doing personally.”