Let’s Talk About R.J. Hampton’s Ejection That Happened Last Night

November 9th, 2019

By Alan Lu

R.J. Hampton had knocked screener Ben Madgen down to the ground, and Roberson and Hampton got into it, which resulted in Hampton's ejection.  (Photo: AAP, via Herald Sun)
New Zealand’s 6-5 guard, R.J. Hampton was held back by his teammates after an ugly altercation between him and John Roberson of the Southeast Melbourne Phoenix, as this incident led to his ejection shortly afterwards. (Photo: AAP, via Herald Sun)

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Last night, I received a notification that the 6-5 guard, R.J. Hampton and the New Zealand Breakers were playing in an NBL basketball game on Facebook via the NBL against South East Melbourne on November 8th. It was late at night, so I wasn’t expecting to watch the full game, but when I had tuned in, it was a bizarre sight when I saw what was on my screen.

It was a sight of R.J. Hampton being restrained by his teammates, after he had tried to go after a player from another team. A comment shortly after indicated that he had been ejected, and that news was shortly confirmed thereafter by the NBL on Twitter. We need to talk about this, about R.J. Hampton’s ejection. We need to talk about what happened, what had led to that point, the aftermath of all of this, and the potential ramifications for his draft stock.

The point of contention from basketball viewers online is whether or not if R.J. Hampton’s actions warranted an ejection. NBL’s play-by-play data says, that Hampton had picked up a technical foul, and then committed an unsportsmanlike foul that led to him getting tossed out of the match.

First, let’s discuss what had actually happened first. Hampton was defending off the ball, when he had ran smack into an opponent as he blew up the screener, Ben Madgen, in trying to defend the opposing ball handler, John Roberson, which caused the screener to fall down hard on the ground.   Some have contended the Madgen’s fall was a flop, which would now be a foul in the college game as one was called on Jaden McDaniels in the Washington-Baylor game, but it seemed hard to tell if Madgen deliberately exaggerated the contact being made, or if Hampton had knocked Madgen that hard to cause that impact.

Regardless, the act of Hampton bumping Madgen to the point of causing him to fall to the ground had likely earned Hampton the technical foul. John Roberson then shoved R.J. Hampton, which prompted Hampton to try to retaliate, as Hampton chased after Roberson, and Hampton attempted to put Roberson in a headlock before being restrained by his own teammates.  

Following all of this so far? Good. It’s a lot to take in.

Whether or not if Hampton earned that technical foul, he undoubtedly earned the unsportsmanlike foul that came afterwards, as the referees had called a double unsportsmanlike foul on both Roberson and Hampton. Roberson was called for the shove, and Hampton also received that call presumably for the escalation and attempted retaliation, as Hampton obviously had tried to fight Roberson after having received a shove.

Whether or not Hampton earned that technical may be up for debate, but once the referees had made up their minds, it was on Hampton to try to cool off, but he and Roberson were caught trying to escalate the matter. As John Roberson was called for one unsportsmanlike foul, he was able to stay in the game.   But since Hampton received a technical and an unsportsmanlike foul, he ended up getting ejected from this game against South East Melbourne. If a player receives two technical fouls, he gets ejected. Same if he gets called for two unsportsmanlike fouls, or one technical and unsportsmanlike foul apiece.

The technical foul can be chalked up to an accident, as Hampton had ran too hard into the screener when defending off the ball in a vain effort to get around him. But Hampton trying to go back in there to try to fight Roberson is not something that should be tolerated at a basketball game. So in my opinion, even though the majority may feel Hampton should not have been ejected, and though sometimes I have been critical of officials in the past, I actually side with the referees on this one, as Hampton’s actions caused him to earn the ejection. The officials made a good call, and Hampton’s actions yielded consequences that resulted in him earning in ejection.  As for Roberson though, if Hampton was ejected, it can be argued that his shove had prompted Hampton’s actions, so if Hampton ended up being ejected, maybe Roberson should’ve been ejected, too.

For all of what happened though, Hampton is not apologizing for his actions or backing down, as he went so far as to call Madgen a dirty player, so it can be safely speculated that no fences will be mended between New Zealand and Southeast Melbourne’s teams anytime soon.

So, what may this mean for Hampton’s draft stock? Not a whole lot, actually, as I don’t think it will actually affect Hampton that much, if at all. If anything, it just means Hampton is a fiery player that can use his emotions for good or bad. Several years ago, Marcus Smart was suspended three games for shoving a Texas Tech fan in the closing moments of a basketball game after he and the fan had exchanged words. It was unclear what was said, but the Big 12 commissioner felt the actions justified suspending Smart for the incident. Like Smart, Hampton may be an emotional player who may occasionally let his temper get the best of him. But it also can be channeled into something positive because, Hampton also cares about the game.

Coach K once said of former Duke great, and NBA veteran forward, Christian Laettner that he has a fire that can either heat up the building or burn it down. Laettner managed to channel it into greatness, as he helped lead Duke to multiple championships.

If R.J. Hampton can move on from this incident and learn from it, he too could use it to help himself in the future by channeling it to be more of a team player on and off the basketball court.