Kelly Oubre retaliated for being ‘hit in the head multiple times’
WASHINGTON — Wizards forward Kelly Oubre said Friday that when he charged at Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk and struck him with a forearm in Game 3, it was in retaliation for Olynyk hitting him in the head several times earlier.
“It was just recurring events,” Oubre said. “I’d been hit in the head multiple times by the same person. I’ve confronted him about it. But the last time it happened, I felt pain in my head and my jaw, and I got up and I ran to him and I bumped him, and that’s all that happened.”
The incident occurred with 9 minutes, 12 seconds left in the second quarter of Washington’s dominant 116-89 win in the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night. Olynyk was whistled for a foul after setting an illegal screen on Oubre that sent Oubre to the ground in the backcourt.
Oubre immediately jumped up and stormed toward Olynyk, leveling him with his left forearm. He received a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected. As of Friday afternoon, the league had not announced a suspension for Oubre.
Oubre suffered a concussion in December, and he said he was aware of being hit in the head by Olynyk several times in this series.
“Whenever my head hurts or I get hit in the face, my initial reaction isn’t going to be pleasant,” he said. “I’m pretty mindful — I take my inner peace pretty seriously. So when that happened, it’s something that’s very rare and it only happens in a situation like that.”
Oubre said it was the first time he’d been ejected from a basketball game. He remains hopeful that he will be able to play in Game 4 Sunday.
“I’m not going out there on the court and looking to maliciously hurt anybody,” he said. “I’m just going out there and playing hard, and I’m sure [Olynyk] is doing the same thing.
“What happened last night is definitely in the past. We’re focused on basketball. And I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t beeline anybody anymore on the court.”
The incident involving Oubre and Olynyk was the most intense of several altercations that took place in a physical, emotional, and sometimes uncomfortable game.
Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko and Wizards big man Ian Mahinmi both received technical fouls for a minor altercation when both fell beneath one of the baskets. And Celtics guard Terry Rozier and Wizards guard Brandon Jennings were both ejected after receiving consecutive technical fouls after they locked horns in the fourth quarter.
Oubre said he took a shower after he was ejected, and when he went back into the locker room in the second half, he was stunned to see Jennings sitting there scrolling through his cellphone.
“I was like, ‘Oh, you too, bro?’ ” Oubre said.
Jennings took responsibility for the first set of technical fouls he and Rozier received, but he said Rozier could be blamed for the second because “he just kept going.”
“He’s a young boy, so I did some vet moves and just tried to get into him a little bit,” Jennings said, “and it actually worked.
“If I can get you to not think about basketball and you want to do other things, I feel like I’ve won. And that’s what I did.”
Jennings said he thought Oubre “sent a message” to the Celtics when he charged Olynyk, but he also believes that Olynyk intentionally flopped when Oubre struck him with his forearm, making the incident look worse than it was.
Oubre’s act looked fearsome in real time, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens on Friday expressed relief that the situation did not escalate. There were no other technical or flagrant fouls called during the ensuing skirmish.
“To be honest, in that moment I thought both sides’ cooler heads prevailed, because that probably could have been worse than it was,” Stevens said.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said he wished Oubre hadn’t reacted to Olynyk’s illegal screen the way he did, but he reiterated Friday that he understood why he did.
“We have to keep our composure in situations you don’t feel comfortable in and don’t want to keep your composure,” Brooks said. “But you have to. It’s just part of sport, and you have to be able to do that. But also I told him, time to move on.”