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Insulting Manny Pacquiao’s basketball skills sends one American player to the unemployment line

Manny Pacquiao stretches before a training session Monday. (AFP / Getty Images

Basketball officials in the Philippines delivered a low blow to an American player who dared criticize the basketball skills of Manny Pacquiao, the country’s legendary boxer/politician/aspiring hoopster.

Daniel Orton, a 6-foot-10 former NBA player who played at Kentucky and was in Washington Wizards camp before leaving for the Philippines, was fired and fined for questioning the legitimacy of Pacquiao’s basketball quest.

“Professional boxer, yeah, okay… professional basketball player, no. It’s a joke,” Orton said (via AFP).

He isn’t the first to point out that the champion pugilist, who will fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 2, isn’t a hoops star. His comment came after the 5-foot-6 Pacquiao, a player-coach for Kia Carnival, scored one point in a game. Orton was playing for Purefoods Hotshots when he was deemed to have crossed the line.

“Everyone is angry at him…,” Rene Pardo, the team’s top administrator, said on the ABS-CBN news website (via AFP). “It is like he went to the United States and insulted the name of Martin Luther King.”

Orton also was fined the equivalent of $5,650.

“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,” PBA commissioner Chito Salud said in a statement.

On Monday, Orton offered a classy farewell.

“I thank God for my time in the Philippines and thank Purefoods for everything,” he tweeted. “I wish the team the best of luck.”

In fairness to Orton, a quick YouTube search reveals that he may have been right about Pacquiao’s hoops dream.