Wright or Wrong: Joey Speaks His Mind

Depending on which state you’re from or which NBL team you follow, opinions are going to differ about who was at fault for the post game scuffle between Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers at Perth Arena on Friday night.

For those who haven’t seen the incident, a scuffle between James Ennis, Gary Ervin, Anthony Petrie and several others broke out during the post game handshakes (what is it with handshakes in Perth?).

While Ennis’ arms were flying around in the early stages he told journalists post game that he didn’t throw any punches and didn’t see anyone else doing anything except “grabbing some jerseys”.

The incident was ignited when Ervin reportedly complained about Greg Hire disrespecting the Sixers by nailing a three-pointer in the final seconds of the Wildcats’ 85-61 win.

Perth has countered by saying Ervin did the same thing in their previous meeting in Adelaide.

When coaches Joey Wright and Trevor Gleeson looked to have separated their two sides, Perth assistant coach Adam Tatalovich appears to have pushed Wright in the chest setting off the veteran coach who ran at Tatalovich and had to be restrained by BJ Anthony and other Sixers.

The NBL is investigating the incident but isn’t expected to announce any findings or penalties before the Sixers play Melbourne Tigers at Hisense Arena on Sunday at 2pm.

Wright defended his actions post game in the most spirited way, making it clear he took the act as one of great disrespect, especially considering his standing as one of the veteran coaches in the NBL.

People will make up their own minds about it but for mine, Wright stood tall in the moment and stood taller in how he framed his answers.

“I had no clue I was shaking hands,” Wright said during his post game press conference.

“I went in to break it up and I thought I did a pretty good job but their idiot assistant coach pushed me in the chest.

“I’m going to tell you right now, you don’t put your hands on me.

“I had pretty good distance between my players and their players, it was pretty much broken up so for him to step across and push me in the chest I think was extremely disrespectful.”

The Wildcats issued a brief statement post game blaming the Sixers for the incident and Tatalovich was not involved in the post match press conference.

The Perth Wildcats said that the altercation between the two teams was instigated by the Adelaide 36ers, and the ‘Cats coaching staff’s involvement in the fight was purely to move players back towards their bench.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said:

“I was just trying to get our guys out of the way. You get some emotion out there, and all of a sudden there’s jerseys being grabbed.

“And it just escalated when it shouldn’t have.

“There was a lot of talking after the game, I’d rather talk during the game and do it by our actions on the court.

“Talking after the game is hot air.”

Wright received several questions about how the incident looked for the league and why he became so enraged.

“I’ve been a coach in this league for 11 years and I haven’t had a scuffle or had to deal with any of that kind of crap,” Wright continued.

“It’s not uncommon to have a scuffle among the players but coaches usually don’t touch each other.

“Out there on that court, you don’t put your hands on me.

“The NBL has got to do what they do, if I get a speeding ticket I’m not mad at the police.

“But I’ll tell you right now that if any coach pushes me at the end of the game it’s going to be exactly like that.

“You won the game, why would you do that?”

When asked about whether the scuffle was a bad look for the league, Wright made it clear he doesn’t speak, act or have the league’s image at the forefront of his mind.

“It’s not a great look but so what? Things happen,” Wright said.

“We can’t control everything in sport, there is a lot going on and emotions get high, what happens between those lines is not how we live our life.

“Shawn Redhage is one of the best young men I know but he doesn’t live off the court like he plays on the court.

“He is one of the dirtiest, bumping, pushing players there is on the court and that is what he is supposed to do and that is why I love him, that’s why he is a hell of a player.

“But he doesn’t live off the court like that, as soon as that horn went off that game was over, it was done and that was off the court.

“You don’t do what he [Tatalovich] did.

“I regret that it happened but I’m a man and I will always be one, you are not going to intimidate me, you are not going to push me, you are not going to challenge me.

“I got more coaching experience than most of the coaches here [in the NBL] and I’ve conducted myself in a professional manner, you are not going to do what he did.

“I’m not here to uphold the NBL’s image, I’m up here to uphold what I do as a coach, I coach these guys well; we get along and have a great time.

“I get along with my organisation but the NBL is the NBL so if they come down and say this is what’s going to happen – that’s on them.”


Author of the article

After leading my under-18 side in baldness and bench minutes I realised my basketball talents were best outside the court. I’ve covered basketball and other sports for Fairfax Media and Rural Press, I’m proud to have met and told the stories of many of Australia’s best basketballers both in country and overseas. I love basketball in all forms and all levels. Follow me on twitter: @downtownball