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Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert handed $100,000 fine after appearing to make money gesture at a referee

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — Three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert has been fined $100,000 after he appeared to make a money gesture towards an official during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 113-104 overtime loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

In an official release on Sunday, the NBA stated that the Timberwolves center had been fined for “directing an inappropriate and unprofessional gesture toward a game official, and publicly criticizing the officiating.”

“The fine takes into account Gobert’s past instances of conduct detrimental to the NBA with regard to publicly criticizing the officiating,” the statement added.

CNN has reached to Gobert’s representatives for comment.

Gobert appeared to make the gesture after being called for his sixth foul in the game against the Cavaliers, being ejected from the game as a result with less than 30 seconds left in regulation and the T-Wolves leading by only a point.

Gobert and his teammates disputed the decision to tag him with an offensive foul and the Frenchman was shown on the broadcast rubbing his thumbs and forefingers together – a gesture often associated with money – in the aftermath.

The action appeared to be directed at referee Scott Foster who had handed out the foul. And although Foster missed it, fellow official Natalie Sago saw Gobert’s gesture and assessed a technical foul to the center, which proved to be costly for Minnesota.

Cleveland point guard Darius Garland converted the resulting technical free throw to knot the score up at 97 and send the game into OT. The Cavs then closed the game out in the extra period, outscoring the ‘Wolves by nine points to steal the 113-104 victory.

After the game, Gobert acknowledged that he made a mistake in reacting the way he did to fouling out, saying that his “immature reaction” cost his team the game. He appeared to accept that a fine was inevitable and was prepared to take the hit, before going on to suggest – without evidence – that sports betting is influencing the way NBA games are being officiated.

“I’ll bite the bullet again,” he said, per ESPN. “I’ll be the bad guy. I’ll take the fine, but I think it’s hurting our game. I know the betting and all that is becoming bigger and bigger, but it shouldn’t feel that way.

“It’s not just one call. Everyone makes mistakes, but when it’s over and over and over again, of course, it’s frustrating.”

CNN has reached out to the NBA and the National Basketball Referees Association for comment on Gobert’s betting comments.

Gobert finished with seven points, 17 rebounds and two blocks in 37 minutes played.

According to Spotrac, which keeps track of suspensions, technical fouls and fines in the NBA, this is the fourth time in Gobert’s career that he’s been fined by the league for criticizing the officials. The $100k fine is a significant step up from the $25,000 fine that he was handed for his third offense in 2023.

Minnesota assistant coach Micah Nori, who was filling in for head coach Chris Finch due to illness, described the gesture as unacceptable and lamented the timing of the technical foul call.

“That’s not who Rudy is, but you’ve got to be smart … He made a visual that was [an] automatic [technical],” he said.

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CNN’s Ben Morse contributed to reporting.

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