Wednesday, May 16, 2007
It all started when PJ Brown, who like Bruce Bowen was a tough, skilled defender that didn't mind supplementing his defense with a trip and a crotch grab from time to time, threw Charlie Ward, point guard for the Knicks, to the ground. The game was almost over, but that didn't matter.
(Believe it or not...) There was a time when New York Knickerbockers actually stood up for each other, and on top of their team spirit, just happened to be some guys you didn't want to fuck with. Neither was PJ Brown. Needless to say, a fight for the ages ensued. Pat Riley, a great coach who is also a magnanimous asshole, blamed Charlie Ward for fighting for position on a rebound. "Realistically, the game is over with. Why would Charlie Ward try to do that? Why make that kind of play at that time. You let the game go...they didn't let it go."
Two nights ago, Robert Horry, who used to be my favorite player, shoulder-checked Steve Nash at the end of the game, which was already out of reach.
Greg Popovic, who is a good coach, showed his shithole colors by noting (erroneously) that "It was just an end-of-game foul and Steve fell down. I didn't think it was such a big deal." As you can see from the video, it appears almost as if Steve tripped and got in Horry's way, causing Big Game Bob to inadvertently hit him on the way down. Hard to believe what you can get suspended for these days, right, Greg?
The players who were suspended in the Knicks brawl were Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson, John Starks, and Charlie Ward. Because nine players must suit up for a playoff game, the NBA decreed that the Knicks, who were up 3-2 at the time, would lose Ewing, Houston and Ward for Game 6 and LJ and Starks for game seven. Miami won both games. (PJ Brown was suspended for two games.)
In the current melee, Amare Stoudamire and Raja Bell have been suspended for the next game, and Robert Horry is suspended for two games.
Needless to say, having your best players suspended is crippling for any team. It certainly contributed to the Knicks blowing their 3-2 lead and losing to Miami in what was perhaps the Knicks's best year and best chance to beat the Bulls.
It remains to be seen how the shorthandedness will effect the Suns - they still have their MVP, and will be able to go small better than most teams (the Knicks were forced to play Scott Brooks). The Spurs don't have a lot of frontcourt depth, so they can't really go big and kill the Suns, and the Suns can probably get a good game out of a proven playoff performer and tough man for the ages, Kurt Thomas.
We'll see tonight, and if the Suns lose, it will be a sore disappointment for any fan. Whenever something like this happens, there's someone to blame. Amare and Raja should have known the rules and sat their asses down on the bench. If they were tempted to get up, Suns coaches should have physically restrained them, screamed in their faces, whatever.
That said, I do not like the automatic suspension rule, and I wish it had been done away with after the Knicks series. Leaving a bench is instinctual, and if you're not out there throwing punches, you may actually be helping the situation. But the bottom line is that it doesn't make sense - suspension should only be for physically endangering somebody, and leaving the bench isn't doing that.
I would propose that there be a far greater penalty for leaving a bench and getting into a fight, and that there be a monetary penalty for leaving the bench at all. That way, it would be discouraged, and the players that actually contributed to mayhem would get their just desserts. However, NBA series wouldn't swing based on the League Office unless people were actually endangering one another.
The way things shake out, though, all we have is a damn shame where a dirty player has helped his team with a dirty play, the coach has shown his approval, and the fans don't get what they're paying for. It may be fair, but it isn't right.
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Posted by Jimmy at 9:16 AM