Manny Pacquiao is a pretty big deal in the Philippines. Daniel Orton had to learn that the hard way.
The former NBA first round pick had found himself playing for the Purefoods Star Hotshots after being released by the Philadelphia 76ers during the last season.
The key word from that last sentence is "had". Orton is no longer playing for the Hotshots after he was fined and fired by the Philippine Basketball Association. The reason Orton was fired? Well for criticising Pacquiao of course.
Yes, we really are serious. Pacquiao is the greatest thing that the Philippines have ever given to the world and judging by the basketball authorities reaction to Orton's fairly innocuous comments, Pacquiao may actually be on the same level as deities.
So what did Orton say about the boxer i hear you cry? Well, according to ESPN, the 24-year old Orton said that Pacquiao's attempts to become a professional basketball player were "a joke." Oh the humanity!
“Professional boxer, yeah OK. Congressman, alright. Professional basketball player? No. It’s a joke. Seriously, it’s a joke,” Orton said.
Orton was summoned to the commissioner’s office two days after he made the comments and was fined P250,000 ($5,674 USD) for “issuing comments that are disparaging, disrespectful of, and offensive to his host league, the game officials, and a fellow player and head coach of a member team,” said the league’s PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial. He was also fired by the PBA.
"Like Insulting MLK"
Purefoods top administrator, Rene Pardo, was quoted in local media as saying Orton had been let go for insulting Pacquiao.
“Everyone is angry at him… it is like he went to the United States and insulted the name of Martin Luther King,” the ABS-CBN news website quoted Pardo as saying.
Orton was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 29th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Kentucky. He spent time with the Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sixers and several D-League teams before moving out to China and then on to the Philippines.