Washington Wizards big man Nene has been suspended for one game by the NBA after grabbing, shoving and threatening to strike Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler in Game 3 of their playoff series on Friday night.
In a closely contested, back-and-forth game that Chicago eventually won, 100-97, the 6-foot-11 Brazilian was ejected with 8 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter after he took exception to Butler bumping into him and incited a brief scuffle.
The two players jostled after the bump, coming toe to toe and forehead to forehead before Nene grabbed Butler around the neck. As players and referees tried to separate the two, Nene appeared to raise a hand as if to prepare to punch Butler.
The Brazilian, who plays power forward and center, will serve his suspension for Game 4 on Sunday. The Wizards lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
Nene was unrepentant after the game.
"I have nothing to regret," he said. "I'm a warrior right there. What I did, I'm supposed to do."
Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy, who finished with a game-high 35 points, was glad calmer heads prevailed.
"It looked like an MMA move to me. It was one of those headlocks," Dunleavy said. "It was great that Jimmy kept his cool. I think a lot of people put in that situation would've started throwing blows."
Butler had no animosity toward Nene after the game.
"I didn't think it was that serious, but obviously he thought it was," Butler said of bumping into Nene. "I was just saying: 'Watch all of that. It was uncalled for.' I'm not mad at him for it. He's a competitor. I respect the guy."