Raptors guard Fred VanVleet fined $30,000 for criticizing officials

Frustrations are running high for VanVleet and the Raptors as their playoff hopes continue to slip away.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has been fined $30,000 for comments about officiating following Wednesday's 108-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

VanVleet opted to "save his money" instead of criticizing the officials after a controversial loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier this week.

That wasn't the case on Wednesday, as the 29-year-old delivered a profane tirade against NBA referees, specifically targeting Ben Taylor. Paraphrasing the rant wouldn't do it justice, so here it is in full:

"I'll take a fine, I don't really care. I thought Ben Taylor was f—ing terrible tonight. For most nights, out of the three [officials] there's one or two that just f— the game up," VanVleet said. "It's been like that a couple games in a row. Denver was tough, obviously. You come out tonight competing pretty hard, in the third quarter, I get a bulls—t tech, [it] changes the whole dynamic of the game, changes the whole flow of the game.

Most of the refs are trying hard, I like a lot of refs, they're trying hard, they're pretty fair, they communicate well, and then you got the other ones who just want to be d—cks. It just kind of f—ks the game up. Nobody's coming to see that s—t, they come to see the players. I think we're losing a bit of the fabric of what the NBA is and was. It's been disappointing this season.

You can look it up, most of my techs this year have been with Ben Taylor officiating. At a certain point as a player, you feel it's personal. It's never a good place to be. That's not why we lost tonight, we got outplayed but it definitely makes it tougher to overcome.

There've been certain times this year where I feel our team is getting consumed with the way the whistle is going, especially after the night we just had in Denver, the way that finished. There were a couple calls early that we all disagreed with, and if I say to my team 'Come on guys, let's keep playing through the bulls—t' and that warrants a tech, I think that's a little bit crazy.

What are we doing? There's a fine line, obviously, I understand that but I think the jurisdiction and the power trip that we've been on this year with some of our officials in this league is getting out of hand. I'll take my fine for speaking on it but this is f—ing ridiculous."

Fred VanVleet (23) is clearly not a fan of the way Ben Taylor (46) officiates. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Fred VanVleet (23) is clearly not a fan of the way Ben Taylor (46) officiates. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The technical foul VanVleet referred to was assessed midway through the third quarter. It was his eighth of the season, with three of them doled out by Taylor. The Clippers were leading by seven points at the time.

Frustration has been running high all season long for Toronto, with the team falling short of preseason expectations. The Raptors' playoff hopes are quickly slipping away, as they trail the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets by six games with 15 to play. It's looking more and more likely the Raptors are destined for the play-in tournament this spring.

VanVleet has also had a frustrating campaign from an individual standpoint. He's averaging 19.3 points and 6.9 assists per game, but is shooting a career-worst 34 percent from 3-point range. He was the subject of numerous rumours around the NBA trade deadline, but the Raptors opted to keep him.

The Rockford, Ill., native is expected to decline his $22.8-million player option for 2023-24 and test free agency this summer.