Hornets’ Williams Fined $25K For Criticizing NBA Concussions Policy


There was a little bit of a delayed reaction from NBA headquarters to New Orleans coach Monty Williams’ public criticism of the league’s concussions policy – Williams made his comments Saturday in Chicago and his $25,000 fine wasn’t announced until Tuesday evening.

Maybe a slightly dulled response time seems in order, given the subject matter.

Williams was facing a difficult situation – a road game, the second of back-to-back dates, against the Chicago Bulls without prized rookie big man Anthony Davis. Davis was back in New Orleans because, the night before against Utah, he took an inadvertent elbow to the side of his head from teammate Austin Rivers. Davis was diagnosed with a mild concussion, and that made him subject to the league’s protocols for such injuries – including no air travel, a series of tests and a neurological exam before he could be cleared to play again.

That wasn’t happening overnight; in fact, Davis, despite the “mild” label, still hadn’t been cleared Tuesday to play in the Hornets’ home game against Philadelphia Wednesday. So Williams, about 90 minutes before tipoff at United Center that night, was feeling the competitive tug.

Hang Time was there for his remarks and can vouch for the fact that Williams wasn’t tricked into his critical comments. He waded in, eyes – and now wallet – wide open:

“When you’re dealing with the brain, I guess what’s happening in football has affected everybody,” the Hornets coach said. “You treat everybody like they have on white gloves and pink drawers. It’s getting old. But it’s just the way the league is now.”

Williams also said: “It’s a man’s game and we’re treating these guys like they’re five years old.”

Following the NFL and the NHL and concerns about head traumas in those and other sports, the NBA instituted its policy before the 2011-12 season. It wasn’t an instant hit with all coaches or players, but it did err on the side of caution on injuries that be dangerous, tough to assess and vary dramatically.

The New Orleans coach had more to say:

 “I’m not saying I don’t like it,” Williams said. “We’ve got to protect the players. But I think the players should have more say-so in how they feel. I’m sure I had four or five concussions when I played, and they didn’t bother me.

“The NBA is doing what’s necessary to protect the players. But this is not the NFL. You don’t get hit in the head that much. So I understand it, but as a coach, I’m a baby about it. I want my guys ready to play.”

As it turned out, the rest of the Hornets were – they jumped on Chicago early and won 89-82. Williams’ first priority likely is Davis’ long-term health and availability, but in the moment Saturday at United Center, it didn’t sound like that. And the NBA answered back Tuesday.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980.


  1. chunkypeanutlover says:

    I think the precautions with Davis’ health are totally justified – everyone has seen over the past few years the highlighted danger of concussions.

    Perhaps the league fined him so that they can get the seriousness of the message across – that they want to emphasise the seriousness of this type of injury, but I do agree that 25k for a comment like that is pretty overblown.

  2. c.anthony says:

    It’s common medical knowledge that you don’t just ignore head injuries and concussions, and that they require extensive testing, CAT scans, and MRI scans for up to a week. Monty should have just acknowledged that. Your brain can hemorrhage even slowly, which can be only noticeable a few days after the initial injury. I had a more major head injury, getting hit with a baseball bat, and it almost killed me, which is obviously way more deadly than an elbow to the head, and it was noticeable as hemorrhaging after a few hours..

  3. Pgulinp1 says:

    only difference between Staljin and Stern is different countries… they fined him for what? because he has a different opinion ??? nba was real men game back in 90is but after that “dress code” rule until now is converted into the game for the sensitive guys…funny part is – from one angle superstars are waaay overprotected by refs, and in the other hand players just can’t express themselfs.. every single interview sounds the same… why? why is not ok after a bad decision by refs said: that was ,bad ,that was bad decisions by refs?? but nooo , if you say that you will be punished by the league. btw what about that flopping ? allen winning buzzerbeater shot vs denver was clear flopp, he dropped on the floor after a small contact but ofc they won’t fined him cose he is Ray Allen- superstar, if some average dude did that they would punish him… and one more thing… charges… stupid rule that destroyed big dominate centers in nba, now you can put skinny guy on center and after 1 hit he drops on the flor with ofensive foul… i don’t know why they wanna have destroyed the center position in the NBA the last in a series of rules against big players is vote for allstar…what they wanna ? to have 5 players with 6’5 who can only play run and gun cose today defenders can’t defend every single time they touch opponent it’s a foul…

    random fan from Europe– worst part is , even in Europe today basketball is more physical sport than the NBA, the last preseason game confirmed that….

  4. NFL says:

    Nobody cares about the NBA #NFL

  5. j bruce miller says:

    Looks like, to me, that Coach Williams’ admission that he ‘probably had some concussions when he played’ is probably correct. The results of those ‘concussions’ are reflected by his comments. Like the football player who sufferred concussions during his playing seasons, the comment is often made “He played too long with a leather helmet.”.

    The league was exactly CORRECT. Coach Williams needed to be politely ‘dusted off’. Doubt he’ll say something like that again (without his ‘thinking cap’ on).
    J. Bruce MIller.

    • expert says:

      You tried to make yourself sound professional, but you look the opposite. You begin by insulting Monty Williams, then claim that he was politely dusted off. That’s ridiculous because since when is a $25k fine for voicing an opinion alright? It’s people like you who keep this oppression alive in our country.

  6. John Doe says:

    I guess the problem is the “white gloves pink drawers” part. That might have caused the fine. But anyway, it’s good to protect the players – but he is right, the players should have a bit more to say about themselves in this case.

  7. Angelo says:

    He understands it but he didn’t like it and he just told what he felt. then BAM! 25K! Not on a player that earns 10M+ a year. But on a coach that earn maybe 1M or maybe less. Dictatorship!lol

  8. Christiaen says:

    I agree….
    The league is overreacting about his statements.
    It really feels like Big Brother is watchin’ you. No discussion allowed.
    Come on, what about freedom of speech?
    It’s Monty’s personal opinion on a situation, nothing more, nothing less.
    He’s not bashing referees, or insulting the league.
    Hell, the league should see it as an opportunity to reexamine their policy and then making a statement instead of just fining the person like only a dictator does.

  9. @gahjet says:

    it’s not a playoff game and there’s little to no chance of them making the playoffs who cares about him not playing for a few games. the coach is definitely in the wrong IMO but the fine was a bit harsh.

  10. Ed says:

    The iron throne of the NBA… Such an evil corporation. It’s too bad that professional sports have become so bureaucratic.

  11. NOH says:

    Really? That doesn’t seem like a complete overreaction? He wasn’t sitting there bashing the rules. He said he understood them and their purposes, but he disagreed with them. Monty wasn’t trying to start a strike or anything. How are you going to fine someone 25k, more than some people make in a year, for publicly stating that they disagree with a rule that the league enforces? Its not like that has never been done before. This article tries to make him out as a villain, but it really is just absurd.

    • NBA: Follow the constitution says:

      It has to be known that basketball more than any other sport has more Traumatic Brain Injuries than any other sport…the league is not overracting in dealing with concussions but the league is totally stepping on the First Amendment Rights with all these fines they give out…how can you get fined for saying for commenting on an NBA rule…ABSURD!!

      • Really? says:

        Head injuries are least common in basketball look at football, hockey, even mma and rugby guys take way worse punishment to the head

    • JayEm says:

      I agree.. I’m sure this isn’t the only rule players and coaches could argue over. $$$ -1 on the league..

    • Jeff says:

      Its absurd that they can fine any amount for simply stating his opinion over an nba policy. I guess it must be in the contract that the players and coaches sign in order for him to be fined but that is the nba going on an EXTREME POWER TRIP! Come on NBA, your not making a very good point in protecting your players by going against the freedom of speech. He wasn’t defacing the nba.