"Don't touch my damn players," Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton protested following his team's 107-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.
The fact that the Lakers lost hardly came up because the coach was fuming about the fact that the referees had ejected Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell after the 21-year-old had come to the aid of his 31-year-old teammate, Nick Young.
Young, who had been frustrated enough to earn a technical foul earlier in the ball game for running his mouth at the officials, got fouled as he drove the basket. Malcolm Brogdon seemed to catch Young on his head, and the Lakers' veteran retaliated with a shove.
Already carrying a technical foul, so Young's ejection had effectively been sealed at that moment. Only, the drama didn't die there. In fact, that was only the starting point.
Bucks center Greg Monroe entered the equation and immediately seemed to shove Young by his neck.
In retaliation, Russell shoved Monroe in the back. As players and coaches from both teams came in, Monroe shoved Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram in the face.
Ingram, predictably, got upset and attempted to get involved, but a referee managed to push the lanky teenager out of the way. At this point, a staff member from the Bucks' bench got involved and proceeded to shove Ingram.
"You grab someone by the neck, that's not right," Walton sounded off. "And then, Monroe went and slapped Brandon in the face. So, he did all that, and he got the same penalty as what D'Angelo did for just shoving someone in the back that was defending a teammate. So, that's crap to me."
Walton continued, "One of their employees is on the floor, and he grabs Brandon by the jersey and shoves him--not holding him back--shoves him. And that doesn't get addressed either?"
Walton intimated that had he seen the replay while on the floor, he would have been far more upset. The fact that a staff member from the opposition had pushed his player did not sit well with the coach, and he proceeded to advance the point.
"Then, I have no problem finding some people to hire on our staff next time we get into a skirmish, I'll keep all of my players back because the fact that they don't get in trouble for that, the refs don't say anything about that, and he puts his hand on one of our players," Walton's rant gained steam. "He works for them. He can touch their players all he wants. Don't touch my damn players."
Walton closed, "Because if that's okay, I'm sure we can find a couple people here in LA that want that job working for the Lakers, too."
"I didn't even know he pushed me that hard," Ingram told NBCLA.com after the game. "But it won't happen again."
The coach didn't have a problem with his players coming to the aide of a teammate and instead said that he would have been upset at Russell if he hadn't shoved Monroe in that position.
"I love it," Walton said he was proud of the group that was on the court for responding. "That's what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to have each other's backs."
More than likely, Walton's aggressive comments will result in a sizable fine for the coach, but the 36-year-old got his point across, and the NBA will likely also hit the Bucks' staff with a fine because a staff members shoving an opposing player probably should not be skipped over.
While the Lakers won the ejection battle 2-1, they did lose the game on Friday night and fell to 20-49 on the season. Next, LeBron James and the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers visit Staples Center on Sunday.