NBA games are obviously filled with their fair share of trash talking. But on Tuesday night, one Mavericks player reportedly crossed the line with his trash talk, and it nearly led to an ugly altercation outside of the Dallas locker room following the Mavs game against the Rockets.
According to a source who spoke with ESPN reporter Calvin Watkins after the Rockets’ 123-107 win against the Mavericks, Dallas center Salah Mejri made a derogatory comment to Trevor Ariza about his wife and kids at some point between the third and fourth quarters of the game. That led to an exchange on the court between Ariza and the Mavs' bench, and it eventually forced the game’s referees to assess a technical foul to Ariza and to eject him since it was his second technical of the game.
Ariza was apparently still worked up after the game ended, though, and he refused to let Mejri slide after whatever he said. So according to Watkins, Ariza got dressed, made his way towards the Mavs’ locker room, and planned to confront Mejri about the comment he made. Ariza’s teammates James Harden, Patrick Beverley, and Eric Gordon also walked over to the Mavs’ locker room with him, along with two security guards.
Fortunately, for the NBA at least, that was as far as Ariza & Co. got. Several Dallas police officers were stationed outside of the Mavs’ locker room, and they refused to allow the Rockets players to access it. Furthermore, Dallas guard Deron Williams reportedly emerged from the locker room to speak with Ariza in an attempt to calm him down. It’s unclear if he was successful, but eventually, Ariza decided to leave the locker room area and later left the America Airlines Center altogether without further incident.
Ariza didn’t speak with reporters after the game, so no one knows exactly what Mejri allegedly said. And for the record, Mejri was asked about it, and he told ESPN reporter Tim MacMahon that he didn’t say anything to warrant the strong response he received from Ariza. "He was swearing and bullshit," Mejri said. "Ask him. He’s out there. Ask him."
Mejri also denied saying anything about Ariza's wife or family on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon:
But clearly, something was said that didn’t sit well with Ariza. And his teammates were equally as upset with how the game played out, with Beverley—who didn’t take part in the contest—posting this on Twitter a short time after the game ended:
Beverley also reportedly yelled at Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle as he was leaving his press conference following the game. "Don’t be mad at us, coach," he said. "Way to be an icon coach. Have a nice season, coach."
Outside of the trash talk, the game itself featured a handful of other testy moments. There were eight technical fouls called overall, and when he was asked for a comment about the game, Harden referred to the Mavericks as "disrespectful" and said he was miffed by the way Dallas players behaved on the court.
"I don’t know what they were on tonight," Harden said. "That other team was tripping tonight. They were disrespectful, were unprofessional players and coaches. I don’t know what was their problem, but I think that got us going. They wanted to throw a little cheap shot and just woke us up a little bit, and it was over from there."
The Rockets and Mavericks aren’t scheduled to play against one another again for the remainder of the regular season. They played four times in the first two months of the season, with Houston winning all four of their matchups. It’ll be interesting to see what the NBA has to say about all of this once they look into what was said between Ariza and Mejri.