NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games Monday and six other players were penalized as commissioner David Stern came down hard on both teams after the Nuggets and Knicks brawled at Madison Square Garden.
But fighting in the NBA isn't new. Remember the Pacer/Pistons brawl that spilled over into the stands after a fan threw a cup of beer at Ron Artest? David Stern, at that time, thought he was sending a message, then. But apparently all of it was for nought, because these high-paid millionaire thugs on both the Knicks and the Nuggets either do not remember, or they plainly do not care.
At first glance, one may be inclined to think that these are two entirely different events that occurred, under an entirely different set of circumstances. If you are one of those people, you may be partly right, but you may partly wrong too.
So, let's take a closer look at a commonality between both of these displays of extra-curricular pugilism. The key player that was involved in the Pacers fight, was Ron Artest. Artest was brought into the Pacers organization by Isiah Thomas, who just happens to be the Knicks coach now. And although the Thomas did not coach the Pacers at the time of the now famous brawl, Thomas was one of the most influential basketball mentors in Artest's life, up to the point he was fired by Larry Bird, the year before the brawl.
Fast forward to now. Thomas is both the president and coach of the NY Knicks and it seems a bit odd that this kind of behavior has occurred again, with some kind of fingerprint, leading to him.
There are many that are carefully scrutinizing as to whether or not, Isiah may have been indirectly if not directly responsible for this fight. Here is a sports commentary piece entitled Bad Apples .
Isiah Thomas isn't the only one in the wrong here. But his postgame press conference performance was the most disappointing, if telling, of them all. He blamed Denver's perceived running up of the score, complete with a highlight reel dunk, as simply too much for his humble guys to handle.
Here, Coach Thomas is doing what is so pervasive in our society today, he is blaming someone else for the problem.
"Up 19 with a minute and a half to go, (Carmelo Anthony) and (Marcus) Camby really shouldn't be in the game," Thomas said. "We had surrendered. (Those)guys shouldn't even be in the game at that point."
Because the other team was smoking them in their own arena. Does he expect reasonable people to buy this, as a valid excuse for a hard foul that was certain to provoke something? To quote Dr. Phil, "let's get real here".
If that is not enough to illustrate my claim, try this:
The NBA is investigating whether Isiah Thomas, the president and coach of the New York Knicks, ordered a hard foul that touched off a brawl with the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, several people involved in the investigation said Sunday.
The Nuggets, according to those people, are pointing to an exchange between Thomas and Carmelo Anthony --part of which was captured by the MSG Network -- that seemed to convey a threat. None of the people who spoke about the exchange wanted to be identified, because the investigation was ongoing.
Now, let's go further into the article.
There is no audio of Thomas, but he appears to say: "Hey, don't go to the basket right now. It wouldn't be nice." Seconds later, Thomas cocks his head, holds out his right palm and, with a slight smile, adds, "Just letting you know."
Calvin Andrews, Anthony's agent, confirmed Sunday night that Thomas had told Anthony to stay away from the area under the basket. Andrews indicated that Anthony gave that account to NBA officials earlier Sunday. Thomas also spoke to league officials.
So, absent any solid proof that a threat was issued, this is murky at best. But it still raises some serious concerns about Isiah Thomas's approach to basketball.
As a member of the team in the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boy" days, he was not the most hostile player, as a rule. One usually thinks of Dennis Rodman and Bill Lambeer, when that team's image is discussed. But overall, there appears to be a certain philosophy that is manifesting itself, as Thomas molds young impressionable players. Rewind back to a statement made by Artest, when he was with the Pacers. In a ten-second sound bite that was played over and over, Artest stated that (at the time of the interview) the Pacers were "the bad boys".
In all of the suspensions handed down in this melee, one was conspiciously missing. Thomas, in my view, should be sat down and fined. He is the leader, he has to assume some control of his young and easily influenced team. Yet, he didn't. He jawed with Anthony prior to the whole debacle unfolding and then blamed George Karl for leaving his starters out there, to finish the game.
Maybe Karl was trying to pay back Thomas for firing his good friend Larry Brown, by giving them an old fashioned whooping. But even if true, he was doing it on the court. He wasn't instructing his players to take out his frustrations on the Knicks' players. To do that would have been a blatant case, of misdirected anger.
But Thomas? Well, it's fairly obvious that he wasn't too worried about his misdirected anger, as is evidenced by his misdirected blame placing. The bad boy image in the NBA is a cancer and Thomas is a catalyst. This is one very good reason I shall submit, as to why I have not watched any NBA games yet this year. And at the rate this is going, I may not watch one damned game.