Ref DeRosa suspended without pay

Updated: May 21, 2010, 10:53 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- NBA referee Joe DeRosa was suspended without pay Thursday for throwing a ball at a fan who appeared to be heckling him during halftime of Tuesday's playoff game in Orlando.

DeRosa, 53, will miss the next game he would have been scheduled to work.

At halftime of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Magic and Boston Celtics, DeRosa was walking to the scorer's table to collect the warm-up jackets for his crew.

A fan behind the table approached DeRosa, gesturing with his arms and appearing to be shouting at the veteran official. DeRosa flipped the game ball to the fan -- identified by the Orlando Sentinel as Franz Hanning -- who tossed it back.

DeRosa motioned for Hanning to be ejected by Amway Arena security. Hanning was not ejected, the NBA said in a statement. According to the Sentinel, Hanning was relocated to another seat in the capacity crowd of 17,461.

The Sentinel said Hanning did not return calls for comment. According to the newspaper, he released a statement Wednesday that read, "As many people in Orlando know, I am a huge fan of NBA basketball and especially my home team the Orlando Magic. I think the NBA officials do a great job. I'm looking forward to the Magic going to Boston and evening up the series."

Hanning is the president and CEO of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the newspaper said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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