Everybody seems to have an opinion on the suspensions handed down by the NBA against Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw in the Suns-Spurs playoff series. So, I might as well give mine.
First, it’s amazing to me to see the bland, regimented and disciplined San Antonio Spurs turn into the Bad Boys of NBA overnight. Numerous opinions, comments, columns and the like that have vilified the staid Spurs. All the Spurs team has done is have an aggressive defender in Bruce Bowen and committed one hard foul, which led to Diaw and Stoudemire making stupid decisions that forced the League’s hand.
Has the image of a team ever changed so dramatically in the course of one foul or one game? I might throw the 2004-05 Indiana Pacers out there, but I think Artest and Stephen Jackson were already known headcases. One little hard foul and it seems there image has swung 180 degrees from methodical, boring and emotionless to thuggish brutes. I can only imagine that some of this comes from the juxtaposition of soft and finesse of the Phoenix Suns, but I wonder if this branding will stick for longer than this series.
Second, I might be the only one, but that wasn’t a terrible foul by Horry. All he did was shoulder check Nash as he tried to go upcourt. It happened to be on the sideline where Nash went into the announcers’ table and there is a large size differential, which both made it look worse than it actually was. There are harder collisions in many attempted charges during games and if this had occurred in the middle of the court there wouldn’t have been such a furor.
Finally, can we all just get over the rule that led to the suspensions? It was and is being applied consistently and that’s all a fan could ask for given the NBA’s seeming predilection to favor “stars.” These players knew the rule and knew how it was applied, yet were unable to alter their actions accordingly. The reason the rule is black and white is because the league would be in a compromising situation if it had the leeway to affect the outcome of a game based on the suspensions, which obviously lead to calls of favoritism that could ruin the integrity of the game.
Look at how people are acting now with all the clamoring about fairness and ruining a series. The NBA would prefer to have its stars in the game, but if it had the leeway to make decisions on that rationale there would be no saving the league.
Whether this is a good rule or not is something that may need to be addressed in the offseason, but at this moment the emotions are obviously keyed into any discussion. Frankly, it makes sense to me to keep bench players from coming on to the court during an altercation regardless of their intention, because fewer players are easier to control for the officials and intention is so difficult to judge.