While he was a great and important contributor to a national championship team, Theo Pinson is not quite in the inner circle of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball greats. What’s not in doubt that is that he is one of the most beloved Tar Heels ever. In addition to being a key piece to a title team, his affable manner, love for UNC and being a Tar Heel has made him a perpetual fan favorite.
With all that, it’s also not surprising that a lot of that has translated into him being a favorite fan in the NBA. Pinson hasn’t exactly made a big impact on the court in the NBA so far. Other than in 2019-20, he hasn’t appeared in more than 20 games in a season. He averages just 2.9 points and 8.7 minutes per game. However, he’s become a seemingly beloved member at every stop he’s made in the NBA, including this past season with the Dallas Mavericks.
Over the course of the Mavericks’ run to the Western Conference Finals over the past season, Pinson gained notoriety for his cheering from the bench. Even though he couldn’t play due to the nature of his contract, he was on the bench for every game, often standing and very animatedly rooting his team on. At one point, he seemingly helped bait Stephen Curry into a turnover.
The NBA did not look at it as kindly as we or Mavericks fans would’ve and over the course of the playoffs, Dallas racked up over $175K in fines for bench infractions courtesy of the Theo and the Mavs’ bench in general. You might think the organization wouldn’t be thrilled over having to pay that much money over shenanigans, but by all accounts Pinson is loved in Dallas. The team even brought him back on a one-year deal for next season.
However, the NBA is apparently over the shenanigans and has instituted something that very arguably could be called the “Theo Pinson Rule.” Starting next season, there will be stiffer penalties for teams that are unable to “keep their benches under control.” One thing the league will be focusing on is players standing for too long and “blocking the view” of fans sitting behind the bench.
As much as we as UNC fans love Theo, we can also all admit that he’s unlikely to turn into the league’s leading scorer any time soon. However, he’s still finding ways to make a legitimate impact on the league in the most wonderfully Theo Pinson way possible.