Daniel Orton just learned how much the Philippines loves Manny Pacquiao.
Orton, a former NBA player who washed out and ended up in the Philippine Basketball Association, recently spoke out about the boxing star’s attempt to play professional basketball in his home country. The 5-foot-6 Pacquiao has been a player-coach for Kia Carnival, scoring just one single point all season.
Orton wasn’t too impressed with Pacquiao’s abilities on the court.
“[Pacquiao playing] is a joke,” said Orton, who was the Hotshots’ designated foreign player. “… Professional boxer? Yeah. Congressman? All right. But professional basketball player? Seriously? It’s a joke.”
It turns out Orton should have held his tongue. Orton’s team, Purefoods Star Hotshots, fined him $5,650 and then let him go.
Team officials also spoke out, letting Daniel Orton know that they were taking his criticism of Manny Pacquiao very, very seriously.
“Everyone is angry at him,” Hotshots top administrator Rene Pardo told Philippine reporters. “It is like he went to the United States and insulted the name of Martin Luther King.”
Even the league’s commissioner, Chito Salud, issued a statement condemning Daniel Orton’s comments.
“This office disapproves of and frowns upon the cavalier manner in which Mr. Orton issued his comments and the unwarranted antics and liberties he has taken with the league and a fellow player,” Salud’s statement said. “This insulting behavior will never be condoned by the league.”
But as many observers note, Daniel Orton wasn’t exactly wrong. New York Daily News writer Bernie Augustine noted:
“But, a simple YouTube search backs up Orton’s remarks; Pacquiao kinda stinks at basketball. And even in the Philippines Pacquaio has been criticized for leveraging his status as a boxing great and elected official — he has a seat in congress — to essentially indulge himself in a hobby, AFP reported.”
Augustine was wrong about one thing — hoops is more than just a hobby for Manny Pacquiao. The welterweight said he doesn’t plan on giving up basketball as he prepares for the May 2 mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Orton isn’t exactly the second coming of Wilt Chamberlain either. He played three years in the NBA, bouncing between the Magic, Thunder and 76ers. Orton was once considered a potential star while at Kentucky and playing behind DeMarcus Cousins, but just couldn’t pan out on the NBA.
Now, after being fired for insulting Manny Pacquiao, Daniel Orton doesn’t seem bitter. In a Twitter message he thanked Purefoods for the opportunity to play and wished the team luck in the playoffs.