How Much Will They Get?

Okay, while there may be a quibble here and a squabble there, I think we basically can agree that the Knicks and the Nuggets were pretty even in the ol’ “acted poorly” category. The media is already going into Breen-overload on how disgraceful the fight was, so how about just trying to put some distance between us and the vast moral high ground the media has, and just evaluate how many games we think the various players will be suspended?

Let’s begin!

I’ll go in order from who I think will get the fewest to who I think will get the longest, as well as how much I think they DESERVE to get…

Isiah Thomas

What will he get? Three games.

What does he deserve? A game.

“Foul him hard” is a bad thing to do, but it’s also not all that out of the ordinary, so I dunno if I would even necessarily suspend Thomas, except he appears to have gone beyond the realm of good sense and warned Carmelo Anthony to stay out of the paint. Just on the stupidity of that comment alone, I’d like to give him a game.

But seriously, a coach shouldn’t reveal stuff like that at all, and I would give him a game for that, just like how baseball managers get suspended if they say they were intentionally throwing at a player. It’s one thing to have it happen, it’s a whole other thing to talk about it like it isn’t a bad thing, which is what Isiah apparently did (“Stay out of the paint”?!? Seriously? How do you say something like that to another team’s player? If he said it at all, of course). And I think the league will find enough corroborating info to justify giving him 3 games, although I wouldn’t be surprised by a few games more.

Jared Jeffries

What will he get? Three games

What does he deserve? One.

Had Jeffries caught up with Carmelo, I could see him getting a double-digit suspension, but he didn’t, so I really don’t see how you can suspend a guy for more than a game just for running at someone after a brawl already began.

Mardy Collins

What will he get? Four games

What does he deserve? One.

Collins commited a bad flagrant foul, and it was bad enough that even had nothing happened, I think he would have received a game suspension once it was reviewed. But with the fight tacked on? I think two games would be a reasonable result.

I think they’ll give him four just as a “statement,” though.

JR Smith

What will he get? Five games

What does he deserve? Three

Smith had pretty standard fight behavior (which is not a defense of his actions, just placing them within context). He felt he had been wronged, so he got angry, and when Nate Robinson reacted poorly to Smith having an angry reaction, Smith decided being physical was the way to go. This is nothing we haven’t seen a million times, but since it happened during a brawl, I think he’ll get a couple more games than normal.

Nate Robinson

What will he get? Six games

What does he deserve? Three

I think Nate and JR Smith were basically equals. Nate perhaps acted more erratically, but Smith made up for it by being more physically aggressive. However, I think Nate’s craziness will lead to the league taking it out on him a BIT more than Smith.

Carmelo Anthony

What will he get? Ten games

What does he deserve? Six

Marcus Camby got almost (if not exactly) six games for a much less egregious punch, but I thought that that suspension was too much. Actually, if I recall correctly, there was talk about how the league would make Camby’s suspension short enough so that he wouldn’t miss a big nationally televised Knicks/Lakers game, and then I think the league wanted to prove they weren’t concerned about that by specifically suspending him long enough to miss that game, so I seem to recall that suspension being too long.

I think the league will most likely pick ten as a nice number – double digits, so they look serious, but not PAST that, so they don’t end up punishing one the league’s biggest young stars (who had such a good reputation up until now).

Well, those are my determinations. What do you folks think?

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79 thoughts to “How Much Will They Get?”

  1. I think Collins shouldn’t get anymore games than Raja Bell got for taking Kobe down last year. It wasn’t much different of a play.

  2. Brian-

    I agree that the media, as expected, blew this thing way out of proportion, but with that in mind, isn’t it a little sickening that various Knicks would behave the way they did? A team that’s got very few wins and questionable effort has got to compose itself a little better. Maybe I’m biased, but I think this was pretty disgraceful for Knicks basketball, because it wasn’t an incident that required a brawl, but they made it a brawl.

    Anyway, I think Nate and Isiah should get a few more games than you gave them. Nate started the damn thing by creating a fight when there wasn’t really one, and Isiah engaged in downright goonery for the second night in a row. That’s just what I think as an embarassed Knick fan.

  3. Isiah clearly instigated the whole thing. There’s no defending Isiah’s actions here. This team was already in a death spiral before this incident. Isiah has got to go. Won’t be long now.

  4. I think Collins shouldn?t get anymore games than Raja Bell got for taking Kobe down last year. It wasn?t much different of a play.

    I basically agree, but if that play had A. occured during the regular season and A. led to a brawl like this one, I think Bell would have received more games than he did.

  5. I think you are right on with those suspensions. But I think Mardy will get more than he deserves, just for the fact that he “started it.” It really was just a hard foul in my eyes (flagrant 2), nothing more malicious than that.

    I’m most interested to see how Stern reacts to Isiah’s supposed mandate for a hard foul. I think that really might set an interesting precedent. There’s already been a huge crack down on hard fouls in the last few years. I wonder if Stern ceases this opportunity to make another statement. In general, I think the hard foul, like pitching inside or throwing a hard check is part of the game. Though in last night’s game, which was basically 47 minutes of completely soft defense and one moment of toughness, it was a bit late and uncalled for to be making any statements. Isiah may be made an example of.

    BTW, listening to the media pontificate about the fight is unbearable. What a bunch of hypocrites. ESPN is just loving it, but then they ride this moral high horse like they are appalled. And, Mike Breen, in particular, (though not a hypocrite) was just completely unbearable to listen to during the fight. He just can’t help but add his righteous opinion to everything, over and over and over and over again. Man, shut up Breen!! Give me a break already. The guy drives me up a wall during regular game action, but during something like this he just really goes into moral overdrive.

  6. I agree that the media, as expected, blew this thing way out of proportion, but with that in mind, isn?t it a little sickening that various Knicks would behave the way they did? A team that?s got very few wins and questionable effort has got to compose itself a little better. Maybe I?m biased, but I think this was pretty disgraceful for Knicks basketball, because it wasn?t an incident that required a brawl, but they made it a brawl.

    Was it disgraceful?


    Would I prefer it not be my favorite team involved in something like this?

    No doubt.

    But disgraceful fights happen a lot in sports. I tend not to let it get to me anymore. I mean, once we had the Auburn Hills incident, everything else sorta pales, ya know?

    Hard, then, to get too worked up over this.

    I watch the fight, see who I thought was “wrong,” and then just move on (unless, of course, it was super egregious, which I don’t think anything in this fight was – even Anthony’s cheap shot wasn’t, like, insane or anything – just a very weak move).

    Anyway, I think Nate and Isiah should get a few more games than you gave them. Nate started the damn thing by creating a fight when there wasn?t really one, and Isiah engaged in downright goonery for the second night in a row. That?s just what I think as an embarassed Knick fan.

    But I really don’t see Nate as “creating a fight” any more than Smith “created a fight” by reacting poorly to Collins’ foul. I just think both Smith and Nate started seeing red, and both went nuts.

    Isiah, though, if he really was foolish enough to get caught admitting to ordering an intentional hard foul, well, I could easily see him get more than what I suggested above.

  7. I’m not sure this thing is being blown out of proportion. You do have to factor in that previous brawl in Detroit also in the image-conscious NBA. But also Thomas’ and Robinson’s quotes from the postgame are disturbing. Most coaches in this situation say how disappointed they are for the team, players and franchise and so on. Not once did i hear that from thomas, who even laughed twice during one question.

    As for Robinson, he has no business getting involved in this. And when I heard him asked if he had any regrets, he flatly stated “no”. he also said he knew a hard foul was coming, leading to think that the foul was premediated.

    Obviously these guys won’t get the same suspensions as the Pacers and Pistons. I’m not sure what the league will do, i’d guess five games for each player and one or two for isiah.

    We should all be glad that Kenyon Martin wasn’t there because he might have made it uglier.

  8. —(who had such a good reputation up until now).—

    are you forgetting the underground dvd that Carmelo was in where he was talking about snitches?

  9. Mardy committed his second flagrant foul in two games, so that makes him a target for a longer suspension. Isiah seems to have been the instigator so justice says he should take the biggest hit. Nate deserves more than anyone except Carmelo among players. ‘Melo should be at least 5 and maybe 10 games. Jeffries tried to get at Anthony, but failed, so why should he get more than one game?

    Isiah, Collins and Robinson were instigators, Smith was a stupid responder, and Anthony connected on a sucker punch. They should all get a minimum three games no matter what! No one else should be suspended more than one.

  10. Am I the only one that thinks that Jackson/Stern will have a sense of perspective on this? I think the suspensions will actually fall in line with your “what does he deserve?” numbers.

  11. Brian,

    I think the commish approaches this thing a little different than you have. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up with roughly the same number of games you suggest I still think we’d get there for reasons you haven’t mentioned. (Though maybe they’re implied.)

    David Stern is likely to–as you suggest–dispense with “moral” judgments, understanding that on occasion in competitive sports tempers will flare. What Stern considers first and foremost, well above ANY other consideration, is the effect on the NBA’s brand image. He is not unlike the CEO of a publicly traded company who must consider the impact of any action on the firm’s stock price. The NBA’s public image acts in a sense like its stock price. It fluctuates wildly, and is largely outside his control, though he has fairly predictable influence on it.

    I don’t know how many games he’ll throw at the various parties involved but here’s what I think he’ll consider about each.

    1. Isiah Thomas – My understanding is that the sole source on the Thomas “don’t go into the lane warning” is an anonymous Nuggets’ assistant. Isiah himself said he told Anthony, “you shouldn’t even be in the game,” but I doubt anything saucier than that will ever be confirmed. Thomas may be called into Dolan’s office for a “come to Jesus meeting,” about his apparent lack of contrition and apparent idiocy for saying something like that to the other team’s star. But, I think the commish needs more of a smoking gun to actually suspend a coach/executive.

    2. Mardy Collins – We all know that for Stern reputation is critical. Collins doesn’t have one yet but had only just the prior night picked up a flagrant foul late in a blowout. Stern will look to “send a message” about unnecessary roughness, using a player with no media presence as a scapegoat. (A move Mike Breen will no doubt wholeheartedly endorse.) I could see Collins getting double-digit games.

    3. J.R. Smith/Nate Robinson – Ditto above-only both have developed reputations as being a bit unstable. Knick fans know that Robinson has a major Napoleon complex. Then add in the other critical issue: the fight spilled over into the audience. On this matter I have complete sympathy with the commish when he throws the proverbial book at those two. You can’t have grown men throwing fists in a blind rage in the stands. You can’t run a business that way. How many times have you turned on MSG and seen kids 10 or under in those courtside seats? It’s just a matter of time before a high dollar customer (or a kid) gets hurt. Sure the NBA could settle out of court but the damage to the brand is the issue. I’d be shocked if either got fewer than 10 games.

    4. Anthony – This is the toughy for the commish. The number of games is easy. It’s either the same number as Collins or the automatic single game for taking a swing. The larger issue is that this kid is rapidly reaching the “too much too soon” danger zone. He’s been tabbed to be one of the league’s young promotional backbones, along with LeBron and D-Wade. Bron Bron is such a difficult act to follow because he’s so mature. Wade is too, but he has zero personality and even less camera presence. Stern needs ‘Melo to grow up but he won’t. He can’t hammer ‘Melo for being a total instigator like he should without doing damage to his (and by extension) the league’s brand image.

    5. Jeffries – I agree on Jeffries. He’ll get multiple games but probably only deserves one.

  12. Fighting in basketball is not right. The way the Knicks play basketball is not right either. One of the only cheers the Knicks received was because of the spat.

    They can suspend most of the Knick team and it probably will not matter much. Isiah is a fool. He has damaged this team beyond repair. I am not really sure the team can be dismantled as the Rangers were a couple of years ago.

    Even if what Isiah said has legitimacy, and Karl is just as classless as Isiah, it doesn’t excuse the horrible play of the Knicks. If there can be one saving grace, it was the play of Marbury. Although he cannot play defense, he had a good game. If he can string bunch more together, maybe some other foolish team executive would take him, and the Knicks can be rid of him.

  13. One game for Isiah? Are you kidding?

    A coach cannot, under any circumstances, threaten another player and carry out the threat. Period.

    I agree that the media is inflating all this and it’s nowhere near the Malice at Palace, which is why practically the entire story here is Isiah.

    My two core thoughts (beyond how utterly embarrassing and whiny and pathetic the Knicks look) are these:

    1. Denver has every right to end an awful road trip by letting its stars have some fun and by punctuating a blowout by keeping it a blowout. There’s nothing unsportsmanlike about having everybody play hard and well right through the final buzzer and enjoying themselves — absent outright showing up and mocking of the other team, which the Nugz did not do. If the so-called unwritten rule applies here (which I don’t think it does), the rule needs changing.

    2. Lame as Melo’s punch was, can’t we now see why he was riled up beyond what we all thought should have been his limit? A guy gets threatened by another team’s coach and the threat is carried out. Melo’s suspension should be docked at least a couple games.

  14. Really good article. I am curious myself as to what type of suspensions will be handed out. I really agree with the opinion that ESPN is blowing this out of proportion. It is not even comparable to the “Melee in Motown”. And, as a wrote in my own blog, fighting and the Knicks have been synonymous, right or wrong, for the last 13 or so years. Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind a tough-minded team. And maybe thats what this team needs to start acting and playing like a team. Might be the best thing to come out of this.

    – Jordi

  15. I’d prefer a team that was really tough, i.e. when they’re playing the game. A softie team that gets “tough” during garbage time is an outright embarrassment.

    If you care about “our house,” “respect,” your “family,” and all that other nonsense so much, show it when it means something.

  16. It looks like I’m the only one who doesn’t have a problem with what happened. I agree with the Collins foul and if I was in the same situation I would have done the same thing. Nate acted a bit crazy, but no crazier than Greg Anthony leaving the bench to throw down with Suns players in ’93. I have no problem with what Isiah “allegedly” did, although I find it hard to believe he instructed anybody to do anything. If you have any kind of heart, you wouldn’t allow somebody to rub it in up 20 points with 90 secs left and 4 starters on the floor. Anybody who was a Knick fan back in the day knows that Oakley, Mason, Starks etc would have done (and often did) the same thing and most of you probably didn’t have a problem with it then. It’s funny how society has become so soft that brawls that were commonplace in the NBA 25 years ago that were once considered “just part of the game” are now such a “disgrace” to the sport. This is what happens when you take a league, throw a suit and tie on it and re-package it as “entertainment”. Nobody got hurt so it’s not really a big deal to me. Hell, I absolutely loved Jeffries reaction, he could be on my team anytime.

  17. I’m not against all fighting in basketball – there have been some Knicks fights where I could even say I was proud of the team to some degree – when it’s a rivalry and a heated game and someone on the other team attacks a player and forces you to defend him. But this was so retarded from the start – we’re a crappy team in a crappy game making a crappy foul for a crappy reason. At least the Knicks weren’t Carmelo-style bitches, but that’s small comfort given the avalanche of suspensions about to come.

  18. You really feel like you’re getting dissed in your house — make the hard foul and then walk away. That’s how you send the message: “You showboat dunk like that in my house, be prepared to get hit hard next time you come in the paint.” Oak, Mason, LJ and Starks wouldn’t have needed Zeke to tell them what to do after that first dunk. End of story. No trash-talkin, no nothing — just hit him and stand there with your mouth shut and a cold stare. Nate’s step-in was the really bad move.

    Funny how the Chaney student gets the enforcer job…given Temple’s history in exactly this regard. LOL

    But man, I totally lost all respect for ‘melo…that was totally gutless…throwing the sucker punch and then immediately running away like a little girl. That was some punk-ass shit right there.

  19. To take a slightly different approach – can you imagine being a Nuggets fan. First of all the Nuggets have already lost to the KNicks, at home no less, which is embarrasment number one. Then your coach plays his starters until the very last minute in the fourth quarter of a blow-out win. Forgetting the fight, imagine one of his players got injured in that situation (with Nene and Camby playing its always a risk). I’d be furious at George Karl.

    Now – in consideration of what actually happened – George Karl’s decision to play his starters proximately causes your team to lose your franchise player for more or less 10 games, more than 10% of the season. Forgetting Isiah, who everyone knows is a joke, George Karl’s decision to play his starters will go down as hands down, the worst coaching decision of the year. If I were the Nuggets owners I’d fine him heavily, especially if it is true that he was putting his players at risk (whether risk of injury which didnt happen or risk of a fight which did) to settle a personal vendetta against Isiah.

  20. According to all the news, MSG has Isiah on tape telling Carmelo not to go into the lane. What’s with Isiah, doesn’t he know the first rule of coaching? As a coach, you dont talk to the other team’s players. Plain and simple. He did it to Bowen in the Knicks’ second matchup with the Spurs. Also the coach of the team is suppose to be the mature one & set a good example. Isiah’s lack of humility after the event speaks poorly of his ability to lead others.

    Additionally what’s this “surrender” idea? “Hello – you play to win the game.” If George Karl wants to leave his starters in for the last 5 minutes, good for him. What happens if he takes his starters out, and the Knicks come back? I’m sorry if Isiah really “surrendered” he would have had his guard take the ball across court and sit on it for 24 seconds everytime New York had possession until the game is over. Other than that the game is on, and you play to win. At all times.

    Regarding Collins’ foul – if you want to stop the other team from showboating then play some defense. And no pulling someone down from the neck is not a good or legal play. Hence why Collins would have gotten a flagrant foul for it anyway. (Flagrant: shockingly noticeable; notorious; scandalous.) Had someone fouled me like that, yeah I would have taken exception to that. And if another guy fronted me like Robinson did, you bet there would have been a tussle.

    Sure the Nuggets acted like goons, but unfortunately the Knicks sunk to their level.

  21. It wasn’t a threat, it was a “lecture on sportsmanship.”

    Boy, Isiah can really shovel the BS, can’t he?

  22. I’m more than half hoping Dolan told Stern, “You don’t have to bother suspending him, I’m going to fire him.”

  23. Karl let loose on Isiah, including pointing out specifically that, “I didn’t want the score to get under 10 points because if it would’ve gotten under 10 points it would’ve had a negative feeling on my team.”

    He has every right to do that.

  24. 15 games for Carmelo
    10 for Robinson and Smith
    6 for Collins
    4 for Jefferies
    1 for Nene and Jerome James

    teams fined $500,000

  25. I think Isiah should have been forced off the team. Not kicked out of the league, but forced to resign. Telling players to go after players is SERIOUS business. John Chaney did that and he got murdered for doing it. People said he “sent out his goons” but Isiah does it and it’s barely a topic. Someone could have had their careers cut short, because Isiah is telling his players to hurt the opposing team. He should have been forced to resign.

  26. EMH Said:

    ‘Karl let loose on Isiah, including pointing out specifically that, ?I didn?t want the score to get under 10 points because if it would?ve gotten under 10 points it would?ve had a negative feeling on my team.?

    He has every right to do that.’

    Yeah, he absolutely does. However…if he makes that choice…and he makes it on the road…and his starters proceed to throw down with unnecessary reverse dunks…well then, he shouldn’t be surprised if one of those players gets clobbered when going up for a reprise.

    No excusing Nate’s behavior but Karl’s a dope — if ‘melo gets hurt in that situation, the biggest fool on the court is Karl for leaving him in when the game is O-V-E-R. And now, nearly as bad…he loses ‘melo for 15 games anyway. Say it with me: Blame yourself George Karl. LOL

  27. Only if he’s showing up the other team, Count. The Nugz weren’t doing that.

    Smith’s dunk came with over 4 minutes to go.

    So let’s see … I can’t play the players I want and keep the momentum going … because the other COACH may order his players to thug mine?

  28. Most leagues, including the NBA, have specific rules against unsportsmanlike provocation. That’s why Dikembe has to wave his finger to the crowd, instead of to his blocked shot victim.

    Running up the score on a team by leaving your starters in is similar to stealing third in the 8th inning when you’re up 6 runs. You know it will generate a reaction, and it did.

  29. Knickerblogger said…

    ‘Additionally what?s this ?surrender? idea? ?Hello – you play to win the game.? If George Karl wants to leave his starters in for the last 5 minutes, good for him. What happens if he takes his starters out, and the Knicks come back? I?m sorry if Isiah really ?surrendered? he would have had his guard take the ball across court and sit on it for 24 seconds everytime New York had possession until the game is over. Other than that the game is on, and you play to win. At all times.’

    Let’s all let go of the surrender thing. Teams ‘surrender’ all the time. It’s called garbage time basketball. At the end of games, when the game is CLEARLY out of reach, the starters get pulled and 9,10,11,12 guys on the bench get some play. Happens night in and night out. That’s CLEARLY what he meant when he said surrender. He meant that Marbury and Curry, the teams ‘stars’, were on the bench. Isaih does enough on his own to warrant the ire of the fans. Making stuff up to complain about is completely uncalled for. Everyone going on and on about surrendering, are purely Isaih haters and make no real sense.

    Collins hardly pulled him down from the neck. He threw his arms down over his shoulders. I said it yesterday, but my comment was deleted…The foul really was not as hard as everyone is saying. He just fell bad. If he had not fallen the way he did, it would have been a flagrant 1. Since he fell the way he did, that made it a flagrant 2. I guess everyone thinks he should have let him go up and throw down 360 windmill.

  30. Who was running up the score anyway? I’m not just going to accept Isiah’s junk on the issue without examining it.

    It was a 19 point game with 2 minutes to go. Karl puts in his scrubs (which rarely if ever happens in the League anyway), they make a couple of turnovers, the Knicks hit three 3s and it’s a 10 point game with over a minute left and his team’s scrambling around, the starters are back in, and the momentum’s gone. Karl didn’t want to deal with that and didn’t. Good for him. It’s not his fault the League screwed him.

  31. EMH, I’m not really arguing with what you’re saying as such — all I’m saying is that there are some unspoken rules in sports. If you choose to violate them, you do so at your own peril.

    Karl was pushing it. If he had done this at home, no one would have blinked. But given that a) the Knicks are already having a hard time with their home fans and b) the Knicks are a team with “thuggish” qualities to begin with and c) they are frustrated as all hell with their play at home — Karl was an idiot. Any smart NBA coach gets Anthony out of there as soon as it’s over. Keeping the lead above 10 is not a requirement that means anything — it was his choice of ways to make a statement to his team. And it was a poor one made at a poor time. In retrospect he wants to pin it all on Isiah, but he made a bad decision.

    Now Isiah should never have said what he did, and HE’s definitely an idiot…I mean that’s well established already. :-) But there are a lot of players who wouldn’t have needed a coach’s instructions to carry out that foul. And some of them would go down as some of the NBA’s best competitors — starting with Bill Russell. You think if Smith had come down that lane in that exact same situation, Russell would have let him throw down or do you think he would have put him on his ass? ;-)

  32. Agreed Alex. I just looked at the tape yet again and I’ve seen far worse fouls. Collins hit Smith on the shoulders and then lifted his hands, rather than push him down or into the basket (like Rodman did to Pippen years ago).

    As for Nate, he seems to be overvilified as well. He basically got between Collins and Smith and pushed Smith out of the way, kind of like what a catcher does in a baseball brawl. Anthony then comes in from the side and pushes Nate so Nate faced him. Then Smith comes flying in out of nowhere and tackles Nate into the crowd. All Nate really did was get in the middle of it and get Smith away from Collins. Oh yeah, then he chased Anthony away after his sucker punch. But Nate stopped at halfcourt before he could catch Anthony.

  33. The Knicks had Lee, Nate, Frye, and Jeffries — all regulars in the rotation — in the game at the time of the fight. The only garbage time guy in was Mardy, and he was only in to enforce Isiah’s goonish threats. So that’s essentially the entire lineup devoted to non-“surrender” types.

    Where’s the “surrender”?

  34. Aaaaand. There’s a difference between showing up and showing off. Showing off is Nate Robinson bouncing ball off the floor at home in the second quarter with the Knicks up 5 and missing the dunk. Showing up is doing what Karl and the Nugs did.

    Marc R said it right…
    ‘Running up the score on a team by leaving your starters in is similar to stealing third in the 8th inning when you?re up 6 runs.’

    You can bet whoever is at the plate is thinking “Wow, thanks for getting me beaned with the ball teammate”.

    Flagrants are a part of the game. There are rules in place for it. It wasn’t a dirty play like and undercut, or an elbow to the nose. It was a hard foul.

  35. More importantly: It’s common knowledge what Isiah did, even if the league foolishly chose not to suspend him (some kinda precedent, huh?). This has got to push him a little closer to being fired (even if it’s after the season), right? This guy is so out of control.

  36. As far as I’m concerned there aren’t any unwritten rules. Davey Lopes was rightfully suspended for 2 games for threatening to hit Rickey Henderson for stealing a base in the 7th inning with a 7 run lead. How many games have been lost up 7 runs in the last 2 innings?

    At all times you are competiting against the other team & should by trying to win at all times. You play full out until the final whistle.

    And any notion that you should expect retribution is unnacceptable. If there is one unwritten rule in sports, it’s not to injure your opponent. That’s why there’s rules against flagrant fouls in basketball. There are rules against beaning hitters in baseball. If Collins’ foul was retaliatory in regards to Smith’s dunk, then Collins is a sore loser. Someone shows your team up, then you need to improve your team, not lash out like a thug.

  37. No one is arguing that there shouldn’t be rules against flagrant fouls or beaning players. The point is just that sometimes these things happen when a player/team feels provoked.

    To deny that there are any unwritten rules just makes no sense at all. Everyone expects retaliatory pitches in baseball and retaliatory checks in hockey. People expected retaliation when Terrell Owens stood on the Cowboys’ star at midfield after scoring a touchdown. Hell, people even expect it in basketball. That’s why nobody was all that surprised to see Karl Malone open up a gash on Isiah’s head years ago after Isiah ran up his numbers on Stockton.

    The point is that if you want to provoke another team, deal with the consequences. Do you really think that the Nuggets were in danger of losing their lead at that point?

  38. A team doesn’t have to stop playing and enjoying itself just because another — incredibly soft — team might become unhinged and “feel provoked.”

    If some .300-caliber softie team had pulled this kind of crap in 1999 and gotten Spree, Houston, or LJ suspended for 15 and 10 games, we’d have been rightfully pissed off.

  39. Marc,

    Just because you expect it, doesn’t justify it. Smith may have been showboating, but that doesn’t mean what Collins did was acceptable. Collins got 6 games, and as far as I could tell he didn’t throw a punch & got hit twice in the face.

  40. KB-

    I’m not sure I understand. First you said that “any notion that you should expect retribution is unnacceptable.” Now you’re saying that you might expect it, but it’s not justified or “acceptable.”

    In any case, I don’t think anybody feels there should be NO penalty for Collins’ foul or Nate’s shoving, etc. We’re just saying that we’re not surprised it happened.

    As for Collins’ 6-game penalty, I think I agree with you. He should only have been suspended the normal one (maybe two) games that usually comes with a flagrant foul where the opposing player is in no danger of being hurt (that is, Smith wasn’t in the air and Collins didn’t push Smith into the crowd or the basket).

  41. Isiah’s tenure with the Knicks is destined to end with this sentence:

    “With the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls select Greg Oden of Ohio State University.”

    That’s just how it has to end. It’s like a Greek tragedy.

  42. Collins getting six games is absurd, and a sorry approximation of “justice.”

    The other suspensions are all within reason (although I think more than they deserve).

    And yeah, I mention in the above piece that I thought they’d find some corroborating info on Isiah’s comments. Apparently they did not, so if they could not find any, you can’t suspend the guy on rumors.

  43. Thomas is a lunatic! There was no shred of remorse during the press conference, only blame to throw at the Nuggets accompanied by the blood-curdling giggle of a madman. Imagine the outrage had it been a high school or college game and the coach had brushed it off with that laugh. Why is it somehow excusable because it is grown men on the sidelines and floor? Shouldn’t that be even more inexcusable? And what was Thomas blaming the Nuggets for, was it for daring to play with energy and passion for an entire game or putting in maximum effort in front of fans who work hard and pay good money to watch a 48-minute game? “We had surrendered?”… what a loser. He’s not just tarnishing the Knicks, but the league and game. Why wait for the Knicks to finish with a 25-win season before dumping him? This is the perfect excuse for Dolan to fire Thomas now, instead of following through on his promise of a season. Opportunity knocks, take it, for the sake of the NBA!

  44. This debate about provocation and unwritten rules reminds me of the scene in Pulp Fiction. Recall the scene where Jackson and Travolta are discussing whether it was an overreaction for Marcellus Wallace to throw Tony Rocky Horror off a balcony for massaging Mia Wallace’s feet. Travolta’s line was something to the effect of, “I’m not saying Mr. Wallace didn’t overreact. But, put your hands on another man’s wife and you have to expect *A* reaction.” (I wasn’t going anywhere with that. The debate just reminds me of that scene.)

    Alex and KB, I think you’re both right. Big-time competitive sports has some fairly clear norms–though they are obviously unwritten–about embarrassing an opponent. Those norms are in many instances silly, and most often a case of the “loser’s lament,” where a team is trying to turn a garden variety ass-whoopin’ into some cosmic injustice done to sportsmanship. Still, we shouldn’t assume away the existence of these norms when players and coaches regularly and consistently cite them. And yet, the league should not and cannot look the other way, particularly when norm enforcement (e.g., fighting) endangers non-participants and fans. I’ll never forget the woman whose nose was broken by a flying chair when a bullpen fight spilled into the stands (Texas Rangers vs somebody).

    As for Collins’ foul–and mind you, I like Collins and have wanted to see him get minutes for his defense–but the contact was uncalled for. Even if he had no intent to injure he clearly put a guy on the floor on purpose. A defender can keep a guy from dunking by cutting him off, forcing him to crossover, or by riding him closely so he doesn’t have enough room to get off the ground. Collins’ “send a message” foul could’ve ended Smith’s career. That’s no exaggeration. No, Collins didn’t hit Smith super-hard, but it’s usually the fall–not the contact–that does permanent damage. The NBA deals with hard fouls much like amateur wrestling deals with picking an opponent up off the mat: if you cause someone’s feet to leave the floor then you’re responsible for what happens. I think that’s perfectly legitimate. Hoops ain’t hockey.

    I may never say this again–and I almost feel dirty typing these words: Stern handled this about right. Double-digit suspensions for fighting puts the onus back on coaching staffs to police its players not to fight. The 25 games for ‘Melo and Smith may well keep Denver out of the playoffs. (It may have also swung leverage back to Philly in the Iverson sweeps.)

    And don’t underestimate the $500k coming out of owners’ pockets. That’s a pretty stiff message coming from the league office to the league’s owners. “Get your people under control. If they embarrass the family name it’s going to cost YOU.” It’s also the final, irreversible nail in Isiah’s coffin. I don’t think even a Christmas miracle can save him now.

  45. Keep in mind that the flagrant WASN’T ALL THAT FLAGRANT. He didn’t go after his neck like people are saying. He simply threw his arms down onto Smiths shoulders and Smith went down bad. The ‘flagrant’ itself wasn’t unacceptable, the aftermath was.

    Just to be clear…There ARE unwritten rules in every aspect of life, including (particularly) sports. These unwritten rules are called common sense and good sportsmanship. If you try to embarass someone, you MUST now expect that person or persons to get embarassed and respond. Cause and effect. I’m sure Collins expected Smith to be pissed and I have now doubt he was ready to deal with it. Hard fouls are part of basketball, and that’s all it was…a hard foul. And if the Nugs were worried about losing their lead at that point, Smith would NOT have gone for another spectacular dunk. He would have crossed half court and dribbled out the clock like most teams do in that scenario. Dribbling 23 seconds off the clock would have been a much better move to secure the lead than to get a quick 2 points and give possesion back to the knicks. Yep, the more I think of it, the more I realize what the Nugs were doing. He deserved the hard foul, but what happened afterwards was just bad.

    This brings to mind something that happened a few years ago. Ricky Davis was with Cleveland and with like 30 seconds to go in the game he was 1 rebound away from a triple double. What does he do? He catches an inbounds, runs to the hoop he’s supposed to be defending, and throws it off the backboard to get his triple double. Now, the guy that was defending him caught up to him and almost tossed him over the scorers table with a hard push. That’s what happens when you try to show someone up. You pay for it. Was the defender justified by trying to throw Davis into the stands? No. Am I glad he did it? Yep. Davis tried to run up his numbers on National TV and in the process embarass the other team/players and got a reaction. Cause and effect.

  46. David Stern is a lame-O!
    6 games for Collins is ridiculous, why should he be suspended for even a single game?

    Nate got the book thrown at him unjustly…I dont get Carmelo, should’ve gotten 25 games period, he’s the all-star, team U.S.A. credentials and has had disciplinary problems in the past, plus his actions were by and far the most flagrant…If David Stern doesn’t show consistency than the fact the N.B.A. has these problems is as much a fault of the players as the league.

  47. I don’t see any comparison at all between Ricky Davis’s move and JR Smith’s effort to play basketball. Guys with a wide-open path to the basket don’t stop and run off 24 seconds when there are 2 minutes to go in the game.

    Can someone tell those of us that don’t seem to get it what “unwritten rule” was violated? Keep in mind that the first Smith dunk that set Isiah off was with 4 MINUTES TO GO IN THE GAME. And that the Knicks had four regulars in the game at the time of their “surrender.”

    Isiah’s just inventing stuff at this point. He’s starting to crack as his soft-as-Charmin team is totally exposed. He’s as mad that HE’S being shown up as he is that the KNICKS are being shown up.

  48. Other than Jerome James and Mardy Collins, everyone’s a “regular” on the Knicks. That was clearly the end of the bench on the floor for the Knicks at the end of the game, with the possible exception that Balkman should have been playing instead of Jeffries.

  49. If Nate was from Vladivostok and wore skates, his actions would have been considered another night at the arena.

    ESPN is giving this unnecessary wall-to-wall coverage, as is their MO every time a fight happens. It’s like watching Fox News cover sports.

  50. Not letting you get away with that one Marc R … Lee, Jeffries, Frye, and Nate ARE regulars — each is a candidate to play starters’ minutes every single game. Collins was in only to goon it up for Isiah.

    If you want to “surrender,” surrender. The lineup is either Mardy, Balkman, James, and two others or don’t start shoveling out the BS that we “surrendered.”

  51. EMH said:

    “Guys with a wide-open path to the basket don?t stop and run off 24 seconds when there are 2 minutes to go in the game.”

    It happens ALL the time at the end of blowout games. Teams just run down the clock instead of run UP the score. It’s called good sportsmanship. If the Nugs were really worried about a comeback, they would have run the clock down and took a shot with like 3 seconds on the clock. I think everyone except for a few people admit that they were running up the score.

  52. EMH-

    Balkman is as much a regular as the other guys.

    Anyway, other than Jeffries, all of the guys on the floor played in the Vegas summer league this year. I’d say that they were more suited to playing at the end of a blowout than Camby and Carmelo.

  53. From a Denver perspective,
    Collins was too harsh. It was a hard flagerent foul, but not a six game one. I would think two (although Stern might have factered in the fact that he had a flagerent foul in the previous game).
    Robinson got exactly what he deserved. How can people think that he was jobbed in this. This would have never reached the level it did without him. Look at the video again…it sure looks like Collins and JR are just going to jaw at each other until little tough man Nate gets involved shoving JR.
    Melo, its a bit harsh, but fair considering what the other people got. And it does a good job screwing up our season in the western conference.

  54. Dave Crocket– I love the Pulp Fiction comparison, and it’s totally apt. Tony Rocky Horror didn’t expect to get thrown out of a window onto a glass atrium, but he HAD to expect *SOME* reaction. “That’s his wifes feet for gods sake, you can’t have any sense of humor about this”. I’m sure Collins didn’t quite expect to get punched in his face, but he *HAD* to expect some sort of reaction after that sort of ‘flagrant’. And that brings us back to the beginning. You try to embarass someone in their house, expect *A* reaction.

  55. The Knicks should fire Isiah. He clearly instigated the whole thing. My question is why does Isiah keep getting jobs. Didn’t he do a horrible job when he was in Toronto and then a so-so job in Indiana. He’s just a loathsome figure. Kick him and fat ass Mark Aguire to the curb.
    George Karl also had a little something to do with creating the poison atmosphere in the Garden. I know he’s boys with Larry Brown and probably relished sticking it to Isiah, but he should have called off the dogs. Carmello’s actions didn’t surprise me…once a punk thug always a punk thug.

  56. “While Breen demonstrated his professionalism, Frazier, who survives at MSG because he is a Knicks hero, not a competent analyst, offered almost nothing. He was such a superfluous presence that he might have stayed home to study his thesaurus. He described Anthony?s punch as so loud you could (a) ?hear it down here, folks? or (b) ?throughout the arena.? He described how the roundhouse punch ?cold-cocked? Collins.”

    Nobody disses Clyde, he was a tough player who did not agree with Mike Breen. He is also without question the funniest commentator in professional sports, and it much better than Kenny Smith.

    Why are all the NBA players called thugs and hockey players are just accepted? The same reason black people “loot” in Hurricane Katrina, while white people “find”.

    Mike fitz, whats your issue with Mark Aguire, the man who tought Eddy Curry many of his moves.

    If James Dolan does not seriously consider firing Isiah I will wear every artical of Knicks wear i own inside-out.

  57. You guys that think that Collin’s foul was standard procedure in the “old days” are not recognizing that those guys laid a body on you face up. Mano a mano. Oakly never tackled a guy from behind. That’s cowardly.

    And you guys that think Smith had it coming to him, let’s play some pick-up ball. If you get ahead by too much and keep scoring I’ll take you down, Collins style. You’ll understand.

  58. hoolahoop– He did NOT tackle him from behind. Watch the replay, it’s on youtube. He was running adjacent(next) to him and tossed his arms over his shoulders.

    I’ll take a hard for multimillion dollars for 7-8 months work.

  59. “Keep in mind that the flagrant WASN?T ALL THAT FLAGRANT.”

    So he got 6 games for what? Getting punched in the face twice?

    I agree with David Crockett about the fall being the problem. Smith falls flat on his face, and he could have been seriously hurt. Collins foul was definately outside the range of “just a hard foul” and he deserved to be suspended for it.

  60. Of course. When you pull a player down by his neck, it’s not just a hard foul. When you make no play on the ball, it’s not just a hard foul. It’s a dirty, potentially career ending, foul.

    I’m just amazed that the victim got more games, when all he did was retaliate.

  61. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve a suspension. But he absolutely did not deserve six games. All it was was a flagrant. He didn’t “pull him down by his neck”. He threw his arms over his shoulders. Watch the low baseline replay and you’ll see.

    “So he got 6 games for what? Getting punched in the face twice?”

    No genius. He got six games for the aftermath, not the foul. If there was no aftermath, he would have gotten 1 game. No more. Why? Because it was NOT THAT HARD OF A FOUL!!! Not dirty! A hard foul. They happen on a regular basis. Go watch the replay. Like I’ve been saying since Sunday, it was the fall that made it *look* bad.

  62. DMull-

    Thanks for the link (and for the e-mail telling that guy to settle down). The guy lost his credibility with me when he absolves the Detroit fans of any blame in the Palace Brawl, placing it solely on the players. (He also chastises John Saunders for having the temerity to be critical of people throwing chairs, dumping water onto players and coaches, and generally making asses of themselves.)

    Yesterday I commented on that Mike Breen is the “voice of impending doom” while Clyde’s demeanor never changes no matter how wacky the circumstances. They’re a real “Laurel and Hardy” act. I can’t believe this guy is dissing Clyde. If you have NBA League Pass, and want to hear truly horrible basketball analysis, tune into Tommy Heinsen (sp?) do a Celts game. (Their play-by-play guy is excellent.) It’s like watching the game with a drunk, 70-year old frat boy screeching at the refs.

    Anyway, you know you’re hard up for a story to beat deadline when your “angle” is that the color commentator didn’t display sufficient outrage.

  63. At least you can say that Isiah is bringing his attitude from when he played with the Pistons. The only thing I can appreciate is that he is trying to instill a toughness that has been lacking with the Knicks for years.

  64. Any of you who get the Sun might be interested in Hollinger’s latest: (paid registration req’d).

    He chastises the commish for letting Thomas off the hook, comparing it with Stern’s refusal to hold Detroit’s management or fans accountable for the Palace Brawl. Although I agree with Hollinger that Stern erred in that respect in his response to the Detroit fight, I totally disagree with Hollinger about how Stern handled Thomas.

    From Stern’s point of view, suspending Thomas does little. It’s at most a symbolic gesture. Banning a player from playing is meaningful. Denver may well miss the playoffs because of the suspensions meted out to Smith and Anthony. Suspending a coach wouldn’t be such a big loss (particularly for the Knicks). Could Herb Williams really get this team to be worse? Apart from pacifying the scores of writers and fans who loathe Thomas, suspending him accomplishes little, especially considering that no one can PROVE that Thomas “ordered the code red.” Unless you were in the huddle all you know for sure is that he ran his mouth to Anthony, a faux pas frequently committed by coaches.

    But, as I remarked yesterday, it would be foolish to underestimate Stern’s response of fining both teams. Hollinger, not surprisingly, misses the big picture ridiculing the fines. The small amount of money, by NBA standards, is not what’s at issue. What is at issue is that Stern–and mind you, my almost automatic response is to disagree with him–has put the onus for policing players’ on-court behavior BACK onto the teams where it belongs.

    If you look at this set of suspensions and fines in total, it sends all the right messages. The league has basically said it is no longer in the business of deciphering who started what and who is responding to it. If players act out–as a provocateur or escalator–they will get a double-digit game suspension without consideration for its impact on the team’s season. Furthermore, will now punish *ownership* if the owners can’t get their coaching staffs to exercise sufficient control over players to prevent this behavior. The $500,000 gets the owners’ attention and lays the baseline. The fines will likely escalate from there.

    I’m not sure what else you could really ask from the commish. His primary, if not sole interest is in squashing this nonsense. Given the realities of various political constraints, this is as close as he could probably come to instituting the NCAA’s fighting rule, which cleaned up fighting overnight.

    Hollinger, as is increasingly common with him, misses the forest for the trees. He quibbles over the number of games Stern gives Anthony, whose actions are frankly the least excusable of *anyone* involved.

    As Knick fans we are so used to Dolan throwing away $500,000 between the elevator and the limo that we are jaded. $500k is a hefty fine for the worst environmental polluters. It’s nothing to turn your nose up at. So do not be confused, Stern got the attention of the owners. There will be more than a few “come to Jesus” meetings between owners and coaches this week.

  65. “I?m not saying he didn?t deserve a suspension. But he absolutely did not deserve six games. All it was was a flagrant. He didn?t ?pull him down by his neck?. He threw his arms over his shoulders. Watch the low baseline replay and you?ll see.”

    I’ve seen the replay many times. Throwing your hands over an opponents “shoulders” is definitely a dirty foul. Did he make a play on the ball? How was he expecting to get the ball by placing his arms over his opponent’s head?

    When you don’t make a play on the ball and just go after the player, it’s called a flagrant and dirty foul.

    By the way, after “merely” placing his arms over Smith’s shoulders, he followed through like he was taking a golf swing, and that’s why people are saying he pulled him down by his neck.

  66. Yeah, Collins’ foul was suspension-worthy.

    Just not six games. Heck, THREE would be too much, I think.

  67. I see what you are saying Cronin, but I just can’t justify giving Smith a longer suspension for retaliating.

  68. I apologize knickerblogger. I misbehave sometimes. And you know I like to wrankle your feathers. Oh please don’t ban me, i’d be sad…I love it here.

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