NEW YORK: Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, the NBA’s top shot blocker, has been suspended one game without pay for elbowing San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, the league announced on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Whiteside, who honed his game for two years in China and Lebanon, averages 3.9 blocks a game, ranks as the NBA’s second-most accurate shooter by hitting 61.7 percent from the floor and is fifth in the league in rebounds with 11.0 a game.
The 26-year-old American 7-footer (2.13m) was whistled for a flagrant 2 foul and ejected with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 119-101 Miami home loss to the Spurs.
On the play, Whiteside was lined up to the left of 7-foot-3 (2.21m) Marjanovic. As both tried to rebound a missed free throw, Whiteside slammed his right elbow into the Serbian’s face. For the game, Whiteside came off the bench to produce 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 25 minutes.
Whiteside will miss the Heat’s February 19 game at Atlanta following the break for this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game.
The Heat enter the All-Star break at 29-24, one game back of Southeast division leader Atlanta and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference.
After a two-year NBA stint with Sacramento ended in 2012, Whiteside played for the Sichuan Blue Whales and Jiangsu Tongxi in China as well as Lebanon’s Amchit and Al Mouttahed Tripoli before joining the Heat in 2014.
Last season, Whiteside was ejected from a game against Boston after slamming a forearm into Kelly Olynyk just a week after being ejected for an on-court altercation with Phoenix’s Alex Len.
Whiteside, making just under $1 million this season, figures to be a prized free agent after the season.