Hawks' Budenholzer fined $25,00 for contact with official

ATLANTA (AP) Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer apologized Monday for bumping an official, an incident that drew a $25,000 fine from the NBA and led to a call from the referees' union that he be suspended.

The fine, announced by NBA vice president for basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, followed Budenholzer's ejection from Saturday's 109-97 loss at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Budenholzer stepped on the playing court to argue a call midway through the second quarter while the Cavaliers were shooting a 3-pointer on the opposite side of the floor. He collided with referee Ben Taylor and was quickly tossed.

''With the league's permission, I have reached out to and apologized to Ben Taylor for what happened,'' Budenholzer said in a statement. ''Ben is an excellent young referee who is a valuable member of the NBA family. We all understand that any contact - including incidental contact - with an official is unacceptable. I accept the NBA's fine and look forward to putting this situation in the past.''

Budenholzer said after the game the incident ''was 100 percent unintentional.''

The league agreed, issuing a fine instead of a suspension.

But the National Basketball Referees Association denounced the ruling, saying Budenholzer deserved to sit out at least one game for his actions.

''Recent league precedent dictated that a coach who aggressively charged onto the floor during live action and physically interfered with a referee would be suspended,'' said Lee Seham, the NBRA's general counsel. ''We are now operating at a lower level with less transparency, degraded safety, and diminished respect for the game. Coaches should compete by creating better teams, not by physically intimidating officials.''

The Hawks were off Monday. They face the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, having lost five of their last seven games.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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