Steph Curry fouled out for the first time all season during Game 6 of the NBA Finals, and then after that, he did something even more surprising. He ripped out his beloved mouthpiece and hurled it as hard as he could:
Tossing the mouthpiece into the stands earned Curry an ejection from the game in addition to his disqualification, making him the first player ejected from a Finals game since Frank Brickowski in 1996.
If he threw the mouthpiece at the floor, we're done talking about it right now. But he threw it directly into the first row, where it nailed a fan:
As it turned out, this wasn't just any fan, but Andrew Forbes, son of Cavaliers minority owner Nate Forbes. Curry quickly apologized to Forbes and dapped him up, but still: He threw an object at a fan.
Some wondered if this meant Curry, the league's unanimous MVP, would be suspended for Sunday's pivotal Game 7. Instead, he was just fined $25,000 for his actions.
Is that normal? Or is this part of some conspiracy to keep the Warriors' championship hopes alive and preserve TV ratings for Game 7?
Let's take a peek at the NBA's precedent on the subject of throwing mouthpieces, headbands, balls, towels, water bottles, and whatever else they can get their hands on to see if Curry's was right or too light.
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March 3, 2016: Jerami Grant throws a water bottle at a fan while writhing in pain under the basket after a hard foul. He wasn't intending to hit anybody -- he was writhing in pain and just throwing something in anger -- but he is fined $10,000 and not suspended.
Oct. 30, 2015: Austin Rivers throws a seat cushion into the stands after returning to the bench. Although he was throwing it without looking and clearly didn't intend to hit anybody, he ends up nailing a fan in the face, knocking out one of her contact lenses. He is fined $25,000 and not suspended.
Dec. 13, 2015: While play is still going on, Matt Barnes kicks a water bottle into the stands. He also curses out a few fans after kicking the water bottle at them. A repeat offender, Barnes is fined $25,000 and not suspended.
Dec. 9, 2014: Enes Kanter throws his mouthpiece into the stands after disagreeing with a foul call and is ejected. The mouthpiece doesn't appear to hit anybody -- a fan proudly holds up the gross souvenir before security guard takes it away. Kanter is fined $25,000 and not suspended.
Dec. 16, 2012: Joel Przybilla tosses a ball to a referee who isn't looking during a stoppage in play. I genuinely think he was trying to return the ball! But he is suspended for a game for throwing a ball at a referee.
Dec. 11, 2012: Amir Johnson gets into an extremely strange spat with referee David Jones, fighting with him over a ball after a free throw and eventually getting ejected for his words. He chases Jones but is held back by teammate Mickael Pietrus, and unable to actually get in Jones' face, he tosses his mouthpiece at Jones and hits him in the back. He's suspended for a game for the toss.
Nov. 26, 2012: Aaron Brooks throws his mouthpiece into the stands after a no-call leads to a Gordon Hayward game-winner. He is fined $25,000 and not suspended.
Feb. 20, 2012: Rajon Rondo gets into a discussion with a referee and tosses the ball at him. It looks like he might've just been giving the referee the ball back, but he is suspended for two games.
Feb. 2, 2012: A ball bounces to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle after a Russell Westbrook dunk, and rather than returning it to the referee, he punts it into the stands where it bounces around and drills a fan in the back of the head. Carlisle apologizes quickly, but the ref ejects him from the game instantly. He is fined $35,000 and not suspended.
March 20, 2011: Aaron Brooks falls to the floor after driving the lane and is upset about a no-call, so he throws the ball at a referee, hitting the ref in the leg. He is suspended for a game.
January 3, 2011: Paul Pierce lightly tosses a piece of gum from his mouth into the stands while returning to the bench. He likely was just throwing it anywhere, but it ended up in the stands, and he is fined $15,000 and not suspended. (The NBA called the gum "an object" in their official ruling.)
Dec. 18, 2010: Andre Miller throws the ball into the stands at the end of a game. I can't find video of the incident, but he is fined $25,000 and not suspended.
Dec. 7, 2009: Joakim Noah throws the ball and hits a photographer. He is fined $15,000 and not suspended.
Nov. 28, 2009: Matt Barnes -- remember him? -- throws the ball into the stands after a game. Again, I can't find video -- we're getting back kinda far! -- but he is fined $20,000 and not suspended.
March 29, 2009: James Posey throws a ball at the foot of referee Gary Zielinski after a foul call. He is suspended for one game.
Feb. 27, 2008: Rasheed Wallace slaps at a towel in anger as a ballboy hands it to him, and it flies into the stands. He is ejected, and then throws another towel in anger onto the floor. He gets fined $25,000 and not suspended.
Jan 5, 2008: Zach Randolph throws his headband at referee Tony Brothers after a foul call. Brothers doesn't even notice, but the headband hits him. Randolph is suspended for one game.
April 23, 2007: Kirk Hinrich throws his mouthpiece into the stands during a playoff game. He is fined $25,000 and not suspended.
April 7, 2006: Udonis Haslem throws his mouthpiece at referee Joey Crawford after disagreeing with a foul call during a playoff series against the Bulls. He misses, and argues his intent was not to throw it at Crawford, but he is suspended for a game. The Heat go on to win the NBA Finals.
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I listed all of these incidents of players throwing mouthpieces or other objects into the stands to show that there is a very clear precedent here. If a player throws an object, they will be fined rather than suspended. It doesn't matter if it is a mouthpiece or a ball or a towel. It also doesn't seem to matter if there is intent.
If a player throws an object, mouthpiece or otherwise, at a referee? They will be suspended, like Haslem and Johnson were. It doesn't matter if it is a mouthpiece or a headband or a ball. It also doesn't seem to matter if there is intent.
I understand why fans are somewhat skeptical of the NBA's suspension policies as a result of the last few weeks. We've seen Dahntay Jones suspended for a penis punch, Draymond Green not suspended for a penis kick and then Draymond Green suspended due to a penis punch, but not because of the penis punch itself, but rather due to the fact that the penis punch put him over the threshold of the playoff flagrant foul limit.
But the NBA generally does a good job maintaining to and adhering to precedent. Curry was merely fined and not suspended for Game 7. That's not because there's a conspiracy, or because the league is protecting its stars, or protecting its ratings, or whatever. It's just because that's the punishment they've decided upon for this crime, regardless of who committed it and when.