Interesting note from Henry Abbott at TrueHoop — the NBA has yet to announce if there will be suspensions at the start of next season for the mini-altercation between Udonis Haslem and DeShawn Stevenson during Game 6.
On one level I hope there are not any suspensions. It was a minor thing, some pushing and posturing. If there had been a Game 7 part of me would have cheered this outcome because I want to see the players decide the series.
But Abbot is spot on — if there are not it would feel a lot like the league office interpreting the rule to fit what it wants to see rather than applying the rules evenly from case to case. The league in previous situations like this did suspend people and said there could be no exceptions to the rule.
Players had entered the court because a timeout was called, but the rule is clear and it says nothing about timeouts (“During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000”). Back when Amar’e Stoudemire was suspended as a member of the Suns in a controversial play the league — including David Stern — took a hard line saying a rule is a rule. (Abbott has all the quotes.)
And yet in Game 6, there was that rarest of sights: Players (watch Joel Anthony) sprinting from the bench to a fight (to say nothing of Mario Chalmers — playing in the game before the timeout — who sprinted over to antagonize, and took a long time to calm)….
The rule is the rule is the rule is a reasonable position. The rule is the rule is the rule, except once in a while … that does not fly.