Pacers center Roy Hibbert had a simple, direct explanation for why he finished 10th in this year's Defensive Player of the Year voting: The media members who vote for the award weren't paying sufficient attention to his small-market team.
"You know what, because y'all m-----f------ don't watch us play throughout the year, to tell you the truth," Hibbert said during a televised news conference after Indiana's 91-77 victory over Miami in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday. "That's fine. I'm going to be real with you. And I don't care if I get fined. You know what, we play, we're not on TV all the time. Reporters are the ones that are voting. And it is what it is. If I don't make it, that's fine. I'm still going to do what I have to do."
Pacers forward Paul George, seated next to Hibbert, added: "Well said."
Update: Hibbert issued an apology in a statement from the Pacers on Sunday, noting that "the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum."
Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was named Defensive Player of the Year in April. Heat forward LeBron James finished second, followed by, in order, Serge Ibaka, Joakim Noah, Tony Allen, Tim Duncan, Larry Sanders, George and Andre Iguodala.
Hibbert was also left off the All-Defensive teams, in favor of Knicks center Tyson Chandler and Bulls center Joakim Noah, who both were voted to the first team, and Gasol, who made the second team. The Point Forward highlighted Hibbert as one of the biggest All-Defensive snubs.
Indiana led the NBA in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession) this season. Hibbert averaged 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
The Defensive Player of the Year award is voted by the media; the All-Defensive teams are voted on by the NBA’s coaches.
“It sucks,” James said. “It sucks. It sucks.”
James was asked if his candidacy for other awards — notably the MVP — hurt his chances. “I don’t know,” James said. “It definitely sucks, though. Finishing second? Who wants to finish second?”
Was this his best defensive season? “Probably,” James said. “I mean, I guard everybody on the floor. I don’t know if there’s one player in NBA history who’s guarded one through five (positions). It’s over with now, but that’s cool.”
It was a particularly eventful press conference for Hibbert, who also used a homophobic slang term in explaining his help defense on James. Hibbert also apologized for those remarks, calling them "insensitive" and "disrespectful." The Heat and Pacers are now tied at three games apiece. Game 7 is Monday in Miami.