PBA commissioner to Johnson's fans: ‘I hope they’ll understand’

MANILA, Philippines – PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa addressed fans who felt he made a hasty decision in banning Tropang TNT import Ivan Johnson last Saturday, February 13. 

“I hope the fans will also understand that I just want to make sure that there is order inside the court. That’s all that I want to do,” Narvasa said Tuesday, February 16, following a meeting with Johnson.

“They have to understand also that the playing court right now is a place of work. It’s not a playground where everybody can make their own rules. That’s why we have officiating, that’s why we have certain rules, which I want everybody to be able to follow so we may be able to understand each other," he added.

Narvasa slapped a lifetime ban and a P250,000-fine on the American import Saturday after Johnson cursed him in a heated exchange during the TNT-Meralco game of the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. 

Johnson was promptly ejected from the game late in the first half after two technical fouls and went straight home at halftime. Narvasa, who convened a technical committee during the break, then made a decision that was announced during the game’s fourth quarter. 

It took one hour and 13 minutes from the time Johnson was ejected to the time the PBA officially announced the lifetime ban. 

Fans and PBA players alike had much to say on social media on the decision. Ivan Johnson trended on Twitter as fans questioned what they considered as a hasty or knee-jerk decision. There was also more backlash on Facebook. (READ: PBA players speak out on Johnson's lifetime ban on Twitter)

“That’s why I tell everybody, especially the players, treat the hardcourt as sacred because this is how we all make a living. This is how we make our money to be able to feed our family. That’s how I look at a basketball court,” Narvasa explained further.  

“That’s why just as intense as the players may be like Ivan over here, I’m also just as intense in protecting everybody there and following the rules. So I hope they’ll understand that," he said.

Narvasa, who is in his first year as commissioner this season, has since been working on changes in the league especially with officiating. 

This season, he employed new rules such as the deliberate foul (committed by any player going for the man instead of the ball) and the landing spot foul, which earns a player either a flagrant foul penalty 1 or 2 on top of a fine for leaving a foot on the landing spot of a shooter. Foul calls have also been stricter this year. 

Both Johnson and Narvasa have reconciled following a meeting Tuesday with TNT set to appeal for a lesser fine on the import. 

“The problem was I was the one involved and I’m the one who has to do the decision-making,” Narvasa said. “In the game, I was explaining also to Ivan and the manager – and this one has already been expressed to all the coaches before the conference – I do not get involved in the games. So you do not have to address me because I’m not involved in the game.”

“When this happened, I was also surprised,” he added. “If I were a coach or a player I’d understand. But then I realized I was the commissioner.” – Rappler.com

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