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BASKETBALL/New Taipei Kings terminate ex-NBA player Byron Mullens' contract

03/31/2024 06:28 PM
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Former NBA player Byron Mullens dons on a New Taipei Kings jersey in this CNA file photo
Former NBA player Byron Mullens dons on a New Taipei Kings jersey in this CNA file photo

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) The New Taipei Kings have terminated the contract of Byron Mullens, who stormed off the court during a 102-77 home loss to the Taipei Fubon Braves Saturday.

Kings general manager James Mao (毛加恩) said the NBA veteran had been let go due to unsportsmanlike conduct and a lack of decorum.

With the Kings failing to capitalize on their home-court advantage and falling behind the Braves 25-18, Mullens and his teammates went on the offense into their opponent's end.

After receiving a short pass from his teammate Christian Anigwe, Mullens broke through the defense between the Braves' Chris Johnson and Hung Kai-chieh (洪楷傑), only to then run into Chen Fan Po-yen (陳范柏彥) and trip over.

With no foul called for his fall, Mullens decided to make himself comfortable on the court and left his teammates to fend for themselves four players to five, which allowed the Braves' Hung to shoot an easy three-pointer to bring the score to 28-18.

As the Kings trailed 10 points behind, the team's head coach Ryan Marchand called for a timeout, where an internal argument between members of the team immediately erupted.

Both the Kings' Lee Kai-yan (李愷諺) and Yang Chin-min (楊敬敏) immediately called Mullens out for his behavior on the court, while the former Los Angeles Clippers in turn started yelling at his teammates.

Mullens performs a lay-up as New Taipei Kings' No. 5 in this CNA file photo
Mullens performs a lay-up as New Taipei Kings' No. 5 in this CNA file photo

After efforts from the Kings' players such as Tony Mitchell to calm the former NBA player failed, an infuriated Mullens removed his No. 5 jersey and threw it into the crowd as he headed for the locker room.

The former Philadelphia 76ers did not return for the remainder of the game and it emerged that he left the premises of the Xinzhuang Gymnasium shortly after the outburst.

Speaking to the press after the game, Yang said he takes it upon himself to call out any colleague who is not a team player no matter the age or nationality.

"Basketball is not an individual sport," Yang said. "If it affects the team, I will periodically remind [and] correct my teammates."

Lee, who also confronted Mullens with Yang, criticized the import player's behavior as well.

Lee said while Mullens' talent and capabilities are of great benefit to the Kings, he could not tolerate behavior that jeopardized the team's performance.

"Especially when we were on the losing end," Lee added, "so I told him to focus on the court and not play ball like that."

Lee also admitted that in his fit of anger, it was he who asked Mullens to leave the court.

Mao later went on to tell the press that the Kings had terminated their contract with Mullens.

"No one is above the mission of the team and company," Mao said. "He [Mullens] is like a timebomb. It just went off today. Attempting to turn a blind eye and cover [his attitude] is on us."

Mao's claims alluded to Mullen's infamous temper that he has recently expressed more frequently on the court.

In another home game on Tuesday against the Formosa Dreamers, Mullens had initially helped the team to an eight-point-lead 36-44.

Mullens at the New Taipei home game against Formosa Dreamers on Tuesday. CNA photo March 26, 2024
Mullens at the New Taipei home game against Formosa Dreamers on Tuesday. CNA photo March 26, 2024
Mullens at the New Taipei home game against Formosa Dreamers on Tuesday. CNA photo March 26, 2024
Mullens at the New Taipei home game against Formosa Dreamers on Tuesday. CNA photo March 26, 2024

He then went into a rage and was given a technical foul after calling out a decision made by a referee, and could be seen dismissing his teammates such as Kenny Manigault and Lin Chin-pang (林金榜) before angrily throwing a towel on the court.

While the Kings lost the game 103-101, several commentators agreed that the New Taipei team was on course to win had Mullens not been temporarily benched due to his outburst.

Mullen's firing marked the latest turmoil suffered by the Kings in March.

On March 19, the team's former NBA star Jeremy Lin (林書豪) was handed a five-game suspension from the PLG as a result of receiving blood treatment banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The team also benched Quincy Davis on Friday after the Taoyuan District Court ruled against him in a 2023 domestic dispute case with his ex-wife.

(By Chen Jung-chen and James Lo)

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