The NBA announced Wednesday that Nuggets forward Jordan Hamilton has been suspended one game without pay for "throwing a punch at and making contact with the shoulder" of Thunder center Steven Adams during Denver's 105-93 home loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
Hamilton, 23, is on the books for $1.2 million this season and a one-game suspension without pay will cost him roughly $10,600. The third-year forward will serve his suspension when Denver hosts Phoenix on Friday.
With 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Thunder leading 75-65, Adams surprised Hamilton with a little hip-check as Oklahoma City transitioned from a defensive rebound into an offensive possession. Responding to the bump from Adams, Hamilton swung a closed right fist into Adams' chest, making minimal contact, and the two players continued up the court as if nothing had happened. The referees intervened, though, ejecting Hamilton for the strike even though it carried the force of a light slap. The play was initially deemed a flagrant foul 1 but was upgraded to a flagrant foul 2, which carries an automatic ejection, upon a video review.
Here's an animated look at the blow.
This was what you would call a strict interpretation by the referees. The NBA rulebook mandates that punches and attempted punches are considered "unsportsmanlike acts" that require automatic ejections. The game officials likely threw the book at Hamilton because his fist was closed and because there was a bit of a wind up motion.
While most of us wouldn't consider this a true "punch," it probably is by the letter of the NBA's law, which aims to discourage anything remotely close to truly violent acts. The additional suspension is further proof that the league office is adopting a zero tolerance policy for anything resembling a punch.