Rules in the NBA

First, let me go on the record as saying that in the event that a vote comes up to change the rules about suspensions for players leaving the bench, I will vote against changing it.

Why ? Because its incredibly simple to educate players about the rule. Its a rule they fully understand and they understand the consequences of violating the rule. That makes the NBA stronger because it removes uncertainty. Can it result in a game(s) being impacted , yes. However, that impact results from an action a player knew violated the rules and was a mistake. There is no uncertainty about it. All they had to do was not leave the bench.

I actually think that more rules need to be iron clad like the “don’t leave the bench rule”. Whenever we can remove discretion in enforcement from the NBA the game is better for it.

Fans will hate the Suns not having Amare and Boris, but they all know the rule and recognize that the players knew it and fully understood it. What really gets fans, and me upset is when they can’t understand how and why a rule is enforced.

When Jason Terry was suspended for throwing a punch last year, our only argument was whether or not he actually threw a punch. If he did, all involved, including Jason knew and understood what the punishment would be and why.

When Udonis Haslem got suspended a game for throwing a mouthpiece while lying on the ground, I didn’t quite get that one. Fined for being mad at an official, that I understand all too well. The suspension I didn’t.

When guys throw an elbow to the head or a knee to the groin or have a habit of stepping under a player as he lands, its far too difficult for officials and the league to gauge intent. Its pretty much impossibIe. I think we need to take a no leeway position and make both a flagrant 2 foul. Make it a no questions asked rule. Watch how quickly teams re educate players on how to close out on shooters and how quickly player behavior changes. Not by all, but those who can’t probably are repeat offenders and deserve the penalty. A guy missing the rest of a game is a whole lot better than injuring a player and impacting his career.

It won’t completely eliminate the need for the NBA to pass judgment on player intent and dish out punishment, but it will reduce the number of times they have to do it.

To make the job of enforcing all of this a little easier, I would like to propose something publicly that I have proposed privately but was shot down.

Allow officials, at their discretion, to use instant replay to review unsportsmanlike conduct or any action that could lead to a flagrant 2 foul.

This would be an important change not only to help get the play right, but also because it lets the punitive action for a bad act take place in the game it impacts. It would also make fans feel that the officials took the appropriate action based on the best information available. It can be incredibly frustrating to everyone at the game when a replay contradicts the best efforts of an official on a matter as serious as a Flagrant Foul.

Its not a cure, but it increases the chances of penalties being relative to the game in which the problem occurred. Plus, although it wouldn’t eliminate the need for the league to take action on players, it would probably reduce the number of times they would be asked to take action over a players on court behavior.

116 thoughts on “Rules in the NBA

  1. I don\’t think he is missing anything.

    I think the point is perfectly valid. If you step onto the court during an altercation you will be suspended. Change that to \’if you intend to participate in a fight you will be suspended\’ and the rule has no teeth and therefore serves no purpose.

    The purpose of the rule is to keep player off of the court in the event of an altercation. I think that as unfortunate as it is for the suns to loose two players that way. It will underscore for the rest of the league that the players need to stay on the bench, and in future situations this may be avoided. Anyone can tell you that they had a good reason to do something, but that isn\’t the point here. The rule only protects the players and officials if it works.

    I agree with mark, I think that the problem is too much discretion. I don\’t like the idea of refs putting their thumb print on a game. We come to watch the players, and if the refs are calling the game \’their way\’ than it interferes with the sport. For instance a ref calling less contact on one end doesn\’t make the same calls on the other because his position rotates. Therefore if the refs have too much discretion you can have two different \’styles\’ of game called within the same game.

    As a fan nothing frustrates me more than inconsistency. If someone on my team commits a foul I am fine with that being called as long as it goes both ways. I absolutely think elbows to the head, knees to the groin and other contact should be automatic removal from game with review for 1 game suspension.

    The players will figure it out, and the consistency will improve the product.


    Comment by greg -

  2. What were the reasons your instant replay idea got shot down?

    Comment by Paul Yarbrough -

  3. The way I see it is the NBA is just hurting their product with these series-deciding suspensions. Mav\’s fans suffered a Jet suspension that almost gave the series to the Spurs last season then the Stack foul that changed the course of the Finals.

    Stern\’s decisions not only ruined a great series for the fans and handed it to the Spurs, but it rewarded the aggressor of the situation. Trading Horry for 2 starters is a no-brainer for any team. Soon we may have an \”enforcer\” on each team, some scrub that can stir up trouble and bait key players into doing something stupid. Teams shouldn\’t be rewarded for punk moves.

    The Spurs/Suns is an incredible matchup but I, as a fan, lost interest after the suspensions because the series was over in an instant. Robert Horry and David Stern, co-MVPs. The only reason to watch at this point is to see if Bruce Bowen can bait Carlos Boozer into taking a swing at him.

    Comment by Steve R -

  4. In his editorial at Stephen A. Smith shows he is another person who subscribes to the \”human instinct\” excuse for players leaving the bench. I don\’t buy it. Athletes train their minds to resist human instinct all the time, such as not buying head and ball fakes or slowing down in transition to hold for the last shot.

    Comment by Akhilleus13 -

  5. hi very thanks

    Comment by kadri kiler -

  6. Hey Mark,

    Whats up with the Indian Stock Market anyhow?

    Surely you\’ve got some sort of Anti-spam protection!

    Seriously though.. REMOVE DAVID STERN.


    Comment by Karl K -

  7. Wow, so much to cover in this little box….

    (Hey Mark, why don\’t you get the owners to replace David Stern instead of worrying about the leaving the bench rule, David Stern is the worst thing to ever happen to basketball, no less the NBA)

    1) The comments about \’human instinct\’ and \’reacting to a friend in need\’. The problem is these guys are highly paid professionals. \”A professional is someone who can do their best work even when they don\’t feel like it.\”

    One thing I noticed more than anything else in this series.. the Spurs kept their mouths shut. When the calls went against them, they might briefly have gotten upset, but they shut-up and went about there business.

    2) Not every knee to the groin or elbow to the head is a foul. Not every hip check is a flagrant 2 ejection.

    If a man is pivoting with the ball, stepping with the ball, etc. With his pivot foot planted, if you catch a knee to the groin, wear a cup next time. The man with the ball has every right to create space. I\’ve got a picture (here: that show Timmy Hardaway leg extended right into Scottie Pippens groin on a drive. Now thats great basketball.

    I loved a recent edition of Pro\’s vs. Joes. Eric Dickerson, Roy Jones Jr, Kevin Willis, & Vince Coleman. The Joes complained that trying to rebound against Kevin Willis was more punishing than a round in the ring with Roy Jones Jr. (Say What?!) Basketball is physical.

    3) I agree that Udonis Haslem shouldn\’t have been suspended for throwing his mouthpiece. I\’m glad that pathetic ref isn\’t around for the playoffs and I really hope he doesn\’t come back. He\’s a detriment to the game. Now if we could just get Mr. Stern out of there. Fact of the matter Joey Crawford should have went away a long time ago.

    4) If a player lands on your foot while he\’s taking a jump shot, someone is moving. Your moving into him on your close out, foul on you, or he\’s jumped forward, your set and he\’s actually charging. If you foul him, the refs should call it, if he\’s charging, the refs should call it. Isn\’t that what you want as a defender anyhow? The other player knowing your in his face on every shot! Either way, it\’s your job as a defender to be in the face of your man… and you certainly don\’t need Stu Jackson calling ou and telling you otherwise.

    5) Bruce Bowen is the best defender in the league. He\’s showed it again this series. Granted, he has the luxury of just playing defense. Any good defender at any level of basketball knows that if your man is faster than you, you have to put a body on him. Bruce did that… he did it all up and down the court. He knew Nash\’s tendencies, he beat him to his spots. Nothing that he did was any more heinous than Nash\’s reach that got his nose gashed open.

    Mark, if Bruce Bowen was available today for the same league minimum he signed with the Spurs for originally, would you take him? (I\’m sure you\’d have Avery\’s blessing).

    6) Rules aren\’t ever black & white, that\’s why there are 3 refs on the court. Thats why their are decision makers. The problem isn\’t with the rules being black, white, or grey. The problem is that they aren\’t called consistently. Whats a foul tonight with these refs, is not a foul next game with another ref. I\’ve played in games, in which, I knew going in that I could play a little more physical because of the refs involved.

    I\’ve heard it from a good source that Mark even had someone break-down the tendencies of the refs in a report. So I know, you know what I\’m talking about. I also heard that Don Nelson & Co, quickly dismissed the ideas.

    7) What about using the instant replay on technicals, say like the one that Finley got last year against the Dallas Mavericks that was later rescinded. The technical free-throw from which was directly responsible for the game going into OT, Dallas one the game.. and ultimately the series. Had that technical been immediately replayed and rescinded, the Spurs would be the defending Champs right now.

    8) Set the record straight: It\’s my understanding, and I think the media is continually getting this wrong. Robert Horry\’s 2 game suspension was not for the hip check on Nash, but rather the elbow to Raja Bell, above the shoulders.

    Let\’s face it, the over-acting by Nash had more to do with his teammates leaving the bench than the hip-check itself.

    Let\’s get the NBA straightened out…

    Comment by Karl K -

  8. Matk…I usually agree with you on alot of things…but to vote against the rule is not cool…unless YOU are using reverse psychology and YOU want Stern to promote a rule change because you oppose one…then I\’m wit cha, other than that, I don\’t get it.

    You CANNOT convince me that IF Dirk got body checked and JOSH and STACK instinctively moved towards him …but never made it that far…and were suspended in a pivotal playoff game that you would be sayin…I understand the rule, it\’s cool…Yeah, RIGHT!

    Comment by Kieshla -

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    Comment by Sai Stocks n Shares -

  10. I completely agree Mark. I have yet to understand why people are upset about the suspensions. This is a rule that has been in place for as long as Amare and Diaw have been in the league, and their \”instinct\” at this point should be to not leave the bench during an altercation. With all of the high profile fights and suspensions that have occurred over the past couple of years, there is no excuse at this point for leaving the bench, especially during the playoffs.

    Comment by Scott Clausen -

  11. You bug me Mark, but I agree with you. Good call.

    Comment by Tyler -

  12. \”There are two good rules which ought to be written on every heart; never to believe anything bad about anybody unless you positively know it to be true; and never to tell that unless you feel that it is absolutely necessary, and that God is listening while you tell it.\”

    Comment by KindAndThoughtful -

  13. Hi
    It is becoming disheartening the way people are saying bad and negative things towards the mavericks after their first round play-off exit, though I am not surprise because most of these mavericks Fans are never die-hard fans ( like the Golden state or Miami fans ) instead some of them are gamblers and are just reacting to maybe the money and valuables the lost through betting on the Maverick. Most Dallas fans are too inpatient, too demanding and some are just sycophants wanting to assume the position of a coach, look it is easier to sit and watch a game and be pointing out correction rather than be in the real thing, indeed, the saying that the spectators are the best players off the courts is right, cos it is easy to run their mouths and give orders they think would win a championship.

    It will be a serious disaster for the Mavs next season if they should trade either Terry or Harris for Jason Kidd (who has reached his prime), or if they trade dirk for Kevin Garnett, or trade Josh Howard and Harris for J. ONeal or shaq as it is been speculated, this team has a solid foundation already, and they must sit down relax and look where their flaws were and work on them. Without any fear of contractions , Golden State were never better than the Mavs, but they were just more hungrier and a good opportunists, we all saw how Jazz played them in and out of the play off, Mavs must get their confidence back.

    No team in the NBA has an automatic birth-right to reach playoff finals, and because the Mavs got to the finals a year before never mean they must get there and win the final the following year. People should stop crucifying and castigating these players wrongly, people should stop been sentimental in the evaluation about the team and they must stop passing unnecessary judgments on these players, common they got emotions too, and they should be treated with respect and be supported for a better next season.

    My advice to the coaching crew, I think one or two things needs to be implemented to the team, if possible with causing unnecessary trade off of players get a good center like Dwight Howard or work more with Diop to improve on his scoring, Terry and Harris must improve their individual game they must learn to be a creator and work on giving opponents Turn-over (these guys for goodness sake won 67 games during the season people should stop passing judgments but encourage them to work on their game), the team as a whole must learn to drive towards the basket instead of just making unnecessary three-point jump shot. And the team should stay humble and look forward with a positive mindset for a better season.
    George Lanny

    Comment by George -

  14. To those who think that rules should be black and white and enforced without intrpretation. Is the NBA wrong not to have called a technical on Tim Duncan and for any number of numerous instances when bench players / coaches step onto the for one reason or the other. Why is it acceptable to allow an \”intrpretation of the rule and intent\” in those situations but not the other?

    Comment by John Gibson -

  15. As long as David Stern and Stu Jackson can say with a straight face that Amare and Boris violated the rule, but Tim Duncan and Bruce bowen didnt (in the 2nd quarter of that game), then the rule is open to interpretation. What the league failed to do is define the term \”altercation\”. One argument, admittedly sketchy, was that Amare and Boris stood up and walked away from the bench AFTER the hard foul on Nash and prior to the altercation between Raja and Horry. Stu Jackson, when asked by a sports radio jock on Phoenix radio, said that the altercation began at the precise moment of the flagrant foul. I don\’t think that is true and I am willing to bet that if the term \”altercation\” is defined in the NBA rule book, it would say something like \”a conflict that happens within the event of the game, but outside of game-play\”, which would exclude the hard foul as part of the altercation.

    Then you have to ask what the true intent of Tim Duncan to leave the bench area when James Jones clipped Ellson when he hung from the rim after after the slam dunk. Was Duncan anticipating an altercation between Jones and Ellson? Was he planning on getting involved? Dan Patrick should of asked Stern this. Stern may have said something like \”we do not know what Tim\’s intentions were\” which the natural response to that \”then how could you predict the intent of Amare and Boris?\”. Experts would then reply \”that is why we have the rule so cut and we so not have to predict the intention of someone leaving the bench area\”, which then would lead back to the Duncan/Bowen incident…you have to apply the cut and dry rule because you do not know the intentions of those, or any players. Duncan and Bowen , along with Horry, Amare, and Boris, should have missed game 5. Period.

    Comment by Vil Vodka -

  16. I\’ve heard and read a lot of people talking about it being a natural reaction to run to a friend\’s defense if he\’s being beaten up, and that is, truly, a natural reaction for most people, I would agree. However, Nash was not walking down the street with his buddies and getting jumped and beat down by some guys off the street. He was hard fouled and thrown down. Definitely should not have happened, but did anyone really think that Nash was really about to be viciously beaten up? And did Nash not have 4 teammates legally on the floor who could get their bodies in between Nash and the Spurs to protect him without running afoul of a rule every single player in the NBA knows about?
    If it\’s such an unstoppable instinct, do the other players on the Suns bench not like Nash and do they not care that he was fouled like that? Or, do they know the rule and were able to control their emotions enough to not violate that rule? Or, is their instinct to not charge out and potentially make the situation much worse than it already was?
    No matter how wrong it was for Nash to be thrown down like that, there is still a vast difference between hard fouls on an NBA court and some lawyer being attacked by a client or some guy working at Burger King being jumped by a customer.
    Also, the players\’ coming off the bench was probably not completely an instinct to protect their teammate as much as frustration boiling over about the dirty play of the Spurs that some of the Suns players have been complaining about. In that case, the odds are that if they had gotten all the way over to the site of the altercation, their actions would not be merely making sure their friend and teammate was OK, but probably dishing out some justice for the dirty play they were sick of.
    You can\’t base the application of that rule on the players\’ intent, because the officials and the league really have no way of being certain what a player\’s intent is when he does this. Could the Suns players have only been concerned about their friend and acting on instinct? Sure. But, isn\’t it also just as likely that, with this play, they could have finally hit their tolerance level for the dirty play and they decided to do something about it? Yep. And the officials and the league can\’t possibly say with any certainty which motive existed here. Therefore, they have no choice but to apply the rule exactly as written, which they did.
    When Antonio Davis ran into the stands in Chicago last season, when his wife was in an altercation with a Bulls fan, he no doubt was acting on instinct. Even though he didn\’t attack the fan or anything of the sort, and the situation was quickly under control, he was still punished. Instinct and intent are not things the league can govern, but they can have a black and white rule to prevent things like the nasty Knicks/Heat brawls of the \’90s and the Pacers/Pistons brawl in the stands from happening. And the minute the league starts trying to fiddle around with those rules and allowing them open for interpretation of intent and instinct, they\’ve opened the doors for another incident that will tarnish the league\’s image further and may lead to a serious injury to a player or fan.

    Comment by Bradley -

  17. I, like many others in this post, usually agree with your opions or at least find the logic behind it. This time around, however, I think you\’re mistaken, though I do suppose that you have been mistaken many times before as we all have. For a player to jump up in the heat of the moment in an intense game to protect a teammate and a friend, and then to just as quickly realize that he can\’t do that and then stop his actions shows to me someone that is under complete control, understands the rules, and follows them. That type of person, when he caused no harm what so ever and did not touch anyone, should not be punished. Boris and Amare did not deserve this fate, nor did the Suns, nor do the Spurs having just won a series that absolutely needs an astrix beside it. The NBA is a great league, likely the best of the top 4 sports in North America right now, however, they are doig many things wrong, most of them centred around the rules of the game and how refs/executives interpret them.

    Comment by robin Bauer -

  18. i have listened to all the talk radio on the subject of leaving the bench and have heard no reason to change my mind and that is i believe rules have to be enforced,they are there for a reason and that is to keep the players from taking things in their own hands.that is why the referees are paid.if a fight had ensued you can be sure the players who left the bench would have been involved, if not starting it.i love basket ball and i hate dirty playing and i think the spurs are one of the not so clean teams, and are a bunch of whiners.
    having said this,the rules being enforced will make players less inclined to intervene in play calling.there are other ways to get even more discretly,in the case of baron davis and the warriors,i believe i saw fisher get even, and the jazz in my opinion are a class act and i hope being as the mavs are not going to win,i hope they do,

    Comment by elizabeth -

  19. What I wonder is why Bowen and golden boy Duncan didn\’t also get suspended? They left the Bench too. Don\’t believe me read Steve Kerr\’s blog. When will the NBA stop showing favortism to the Spurs and that crybaby Duncan? It\’s getting old. The spurs would already be sitting at home if it weren\’t for the refs and Stern

    Comment by Brian -

  20. Would people be complaining if Pat Burke and Jalen Rose had left the bench and got suspended. No, everyone would\’ve said \”rules are rules\”.

    So basically there\’s only a problem with who becomes a victim of the rule and not the rule itself.

    Funny how the media is always complaining that \”superstars\” think they don\’t have to follow the rules. Well, at least now we know why.

    Comment by NBA Fan -

  21. Mark:

    I can see where you\’re coming from, that the rule should be ironclad. It\’s a valid point. If the NBA sticks to the letter of the law every time, it will make the calls more consistant. All the players have to do is abide by the rules. I\’m ok with that.

    However, in this specific case, you have failed to realize the most important point of all: Amare and Diaw didn\’t break the rule, because there was not an altercation occuring. There was just a hard foul, and some emotion shown on the part of Nash after the foul. But there wasn\’t an \”altercation\”. Therefore, there was no cause for the suspensions.

    And it\’s also a valid point that if the two Suns players should be suspened, by following the \”letter of the law\”, then Duncan should also be suspended for getting off the bench earlier in the game. I believe his incident also occured after a hard foul, so it\’s pretty much the same thing as what the Suns players did. He actually walked out several feet onto the court, so in my estimation his offense was actually worse than what Boris and Amare did.

    For the record I\’m not a fan of either team. All I\’m looking for is some consistancy, just like you.

    Comment by Joe -

  22. When you watch the Suns lose tonight, count how many times after a made basket the person inbounding the ball steps over the line when they pass the ball in.

    This rule is interpreted. Why is this rule ok to break and not leaving the bench?

    If I were you Mark, I would get out of this league now. When was the last time the NBA did something where you said, \”You know what that was the right move?\”

    This is a league of Babies, Millionaries, and Power Hungry league officals/referees.

    No wonder we can\’t compete in the world/olympic stage anymore. The players are babies. The league doesn\’t enforce the right rules.

    I\’m Disgusted.

    Comment by Doug -

  23. Let\’s just hope the Suns and Spurs keep beating each other up, and that the series goes 7 games so the underdog (and rested) Jazz have a better chance of going to the NBA finals. Go Utah!

    Comment by Spencer Ferguson -

  24. Nice to see your insight applied to b-ball, MaC. I would like to see the league be able to retroactively charge players for flops, with the aid of replay, with a points/suspension system similar to that for flagrant fouls. While we\’re on the subject, why couldn\’t Baron Davis have been suspended for his flagrant 2 on Fisher when he was already carrying 5 technical points? I say combine all the transgressions into one category with suspensions looming if you really want to modify player behavior. Thanks!

    Comment by MC Welk -

  25. What I dont understand is why the coaches are not being blamed more. I am sure that with all those assistants on the bench it is someone\’s job to hold players back in such a case like this. If they had done thier job none of this would have happened and the Suns would be up 3-2.

    Comment by Nick Lacy -

  26. In just reading all the comments here, I think most of you guys are misunderstanding what Mark is saying here. In my opinion, what he\’s saying is; \”The NBA front office has proven themselves incompetant with regards to making logical decisions in \’judgement call\’ situations, so for the good of everyone involved let\’s keep everything as black and white so the NBA braintrust doesn\’t have the opportunity to screw up a team\’s season along with the fans…the collateral damage in having such a black and white rules is situations like these with stoudemire and diaw which could have been avoided with a little self control and education.\”

    As much as it sucks that the series is being dictated by these black and white rules, even stoudemire and diaw have said that they know they were in the wrong and they both accept their discipline. That\’s nowhere NEAR as bad as the random Stackhouse suspension in the Finals (or the lack of suspensions of Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, and Bruce Bowen this post season). Those are all examples that show when you allow Stu Jackson and his cronies to make a subjective ruling there is no consistancy or logic which is MADDENING for teams and their fans.

    Comment by brian -

  27. Hard as it is for me to admit it, but I actually agree with Mr. Cuban\’s assessments. I\’ve read a million different arguments about why this rule should be relaxed, most wanting some subjective wiggle room allowed when determining an appropriate punishment. I think that would be a complete mistake. If I\’m playing a pick-up game at the local YMCA and I should get clotheslined by an opposing player I would expect my \”boys\” to come to my defense. They\’d all, like me, be so winded that the most they could muster would be a few harsh stares between labored breaths. Not much damage could occur. But what we have here are world class athletes packing north of 200 lbs of fine tuned muscle and bone. It wouldn\’t take much to inflict some serious damage. If you allow players to venture into the mele how is anyone to know a priori who\’s a combatant and who\’s a peacemaker. If I\’m in the middle of an altercation my first instinct is to protect myself. Anyone wearing the opponents jersey becomes a potential threat. Do I wait and see if he throws a punch before reacting. But then I could be the next Rudy T. At that point it\’s better to take the proactive tact and swing first and ask forgiveness later. If the league equivocates on this rule then they run the risk of ending up with the NHL. But worse. Now it will be mostly highly paid African American males behaving badly. Want to guess how long America would \”Love this game\” at that point.

    Comment by Wash -

  28. Reasonable points. I tend to agree more with The Sports Guy who takes essentially the opposite viewpoint here:

    Ironclad rules are a fine idea, but the reality is that when rules aren\’t subject to interpretation you get grotesque results that are no one\’s fault. At least when a referee blows a call, we can all say \”OK, that guy screwed up.\” When the call is \”right\” even though everybody knows it\’s wrong, that\’s when sports officials start to look stupid and arbitrary.

    Comment by Ape Man -

  29. Mark: Your reaction to this was soooo predictable, it is so obvious you are still not man enough to admit you screwed up royally by letting the real (should be 3X) MVP get away. You can\’t stand to see the Suns do better than your Mavs, for one reason STEVE NASH!!! So ofcourse you won\’t back the Suns. Had this happened tp the Mavs I have no doubt you would do a complete 180 on your views. Man up you let Nash get away, give him his due from the day he left Dallas he has been and I quote Bulls coach Scott Skiles, \”the best player on the planet, and it aint even close\”. Why would you not want to protect your MVP, if your team had been good enough to get to the second round and Dirk had been given a dirty cheap shot like that, I am sure even you would have rushed onto the court. The Suns got jobbed by the NBA and you know (and love) it!

    Comment by Bob Engle -

  30. becoz thats not Dirk,so u said this.–a fan from China

    Comment by Myra -

  31. Agreed Amare and Boris should have known better, but I\’m 99.9% sure Robert acted with only one thing in mind, provoke some people and get suspensions.
    I agree all should be punished, but why can\’t they put the suspensions for next years games? It\’s a rather sad way to win a series, because if the Spurs win,they will always be confronted with the \”what if\” scenario.
    I would have suspended Horry for all games vs Suns next season and Amare and Diaw for the 1st game vs Spurs next season.

    Comment by ST23 -

  32. I like the rule, I like that it keeps fights from interrupting the basketball game I\’m trying to enjoy. The \”but my boys are getting beat down\” argument is ridiculous. Other than Rudy Tomjanovich has anyone ever really gotten hurt in a basketball \’fight\’? Even with Tomjanovich it was a sucker punch, nothing his boys were going to do to help him after the fact. With the small army thats already on the court is there really any chance someone is going to really get beat like that? Lets be honest, your not defending anyone by running across the floor, your attacking someone. Your pissed and your going to tell someone how you feel. I\’d rather win the game (and maybe the next one…) than get in some chest thumping and maybe a pathetic swing over some refs head.

    If it\’s retribution your really after you could do so much better somewhere later in the game. 1) Smaller penalty – your not getting suspended for a dozen games for punching someone. 2) The headgame – say someone on your team in baseball gets beaned in the back. You know your teams pitcher is going to put one into the back of someone on their team. They know it, the fans know it, everyone is just waiting for it. You don\’t think that knowing the elbow is going to come crashing down \’eventually\’ might get in some players heads, might alter a pass or a jumpshot?

    This still doesn\’t help the possible hockey style \’goonism\’ but I just don\’t have an answer for that one.

    Comment by Rob T -

  33. Hey Cuban, I think a guy named Mark Hudson is looking for a way to get in touch with you.

    And as for Heath, you can\’t seriously equate Mbenga with Stoudamire and Diaw. Of course Cuban isn\’t going to complain too much over that just as the Suns wouldn\’t if it was Burke who was suspended.

    All I can say is that Stu Jackson ruined the Grizzlies (and NBA) in Vancouver, and now he\’s got his sights set on ruining the whole league. Can you say \’incompetent\’?

    Comment by GM -

  34. dear Mark Cuban i read an article about you and it was very good i want to email you info about me and ask you advice on how to get my life in the right track my email is i was wondering if there was a way that i can email you

    Comment by Mark Hudson -

  35. dear Mark Cuban i read an article about you and it was very good i want to email you info about me and ask you advice on how to get my life in the right track my email is i was wondering if there was a way that i can email you

    Comment by Mark Hudson -

  36. dear Mark Cuban i read an article about you and it was very good i want to email you info about me and ask you advice on how to get my life in the right track my email is i was wondering if there was a way that i can email you

    Comment by Mark Hudson -

  37. *****EVERY Official should have a mini PSP ******

    I have been saying this for years, and get rediculed for it everytime – but I dont care. Every official, regardless of the sport (Basketball, Football (especially), Soccer, Baseball etc) should have a mini PSP-like handset that replay\’s different angles of the last play. The device could have touchscreen userability and functions to choose a different angle the official wants to see – speed up, or slow down the motion, zoom in – zoom out. (Similiar to the replay on any sports video game)

    Ive heard all the arguments- but lets hear your best….what do you think?

    Comment by Noah -

  38. I wonder if the Lakers acted \”naturally\” last year when Raja clotheslined Kobe. After all, that was their premier player but I don\’t remember any of them getting suspended. Maybe because they exercised self control and stayed on the bench.

    Comment by MC -

  39. Ask, and I shall receive.

    I disagree with your post, Mark.
    But thanks for taking the time top post your thoughts.

    Comment by Loogies -

  40. Mark,

    All rules cannot be black and white. It is simply not practical. And the world is not black and white. It is colorful. It is up to us to interpret the rules.

    May be NBA needs a reputable/honest/intelligent guy at the top who can judge these kinds of situations. Obviously if Amare has gone and punched/grabbed Horry, then he should be punished. Otherwise, this is just a stupid rule.

    If NBA doesnt have anyone who is reputable/honest/intelligent then we can have as much as black and white rules.

    Comment by Niranjan -

  41. Mark, if you were out there and someone decided to cheap shot you or take you out, your entire team and staff would probably jump in to help. It\’s a natural reaction to the events. I would want my teammates to help me if something like that happened to me as well. I agree on your statement about instant replay. It can be argued both ways, but we know ref\’s arent perfect, and they never will be, but this would give them a tool to do their jobs better.

    Comment by Matt -

  42. Hey Mike,

    Kobe\’s teammates don\’t like him and Okur is a douche.

    Comment by scott machen -


    This says it all Mark. I thought the fans in Phoenix were the only ones complaining about this. I was in LA the past few days and their sports broadcasts are all about this issue. Just about everyone sees this incident one way.

    BTW – Stern cancelled his trip to Phoenix on Wednesday. What a complete baby. He can\’t face the music.

    Comment by scott machen -

  44. Look for NBA teams to start having an NHL like goon on their team. Put the goon in, give a hard Horry-like foul in front of the other teams bench when a few starters are on the bench, and see if you can suck them into leaving the bench.

    Comment by Jim -

  45. Taking about the review of the flagrant good idea. Let me tell you what happens in cricket, along with two umpires on the field (officials calling the game ) there is a third umpire who is sitting just with the TV, when there is a decision which requires the umpires to get information from the replays they defer the decision to him the third umpire he decides what to do based on the replay.

    I think we can something similar can be implemented for NBA . officials on the floor so they can just relax and call the games, the fourth official will just look at TV replays sitting in a box far away and just call flops, flagrant.

    Comment by Stafa Kamal -

  46. Human Instinct? When Kobe got clothesline by bell last year, why didn\’t any of the Lakers leave the bench. They don\’t have human instinct? When Jason Richardson leveled Okur, none of the Jazz left the bench. That foul was harder than what Nash got and both of them happened when the game was already decided. STAT and Diaw have more human instinct than those other benches that decided not to leave to help their teammate? No. They have control and a understanding if they left the bench, it would hurt their team. STAT and Diaw need to learn control instead of running of their bench and ultimately hurting their team.

    Comment by Mike -

  47. I am all for a black and white rule book…if it adds some consistency to the officiating. With all the great camera shots available, why not use the replay system more? It only makes sense, especially during the playoffs when there is more than just a regular season record at stake. By all means, lets get the calls right. The Bowen\’s of the league make me not want to watch anymore. Its disgusting to watch them risk another player\’s season/career with a careless shenanigan mostly because they are getting beat by them on every play, and never pay the consequences. I mean seriously, before the end of Bowen\’s career one of his careless antics will start a giant brawl. If I was Pops I would be embarassed that I had a player acting that way on the court. I understand these guys should be allowed to play with a fire and an intensity and games will get chippy, but at what point is it over the top. Everyone will have a different idea as to what that template is, thats the issue. These guys are \”professionals\” and in reality are televised icons for youngsters. So the rules are the rules…but they should be consistently acted out regardless of the player or the team. Like Shaq said, \”You do the crime, you do the time\” Simple stuff.

    Comment by Jason -

  48. Here is why there should be some discretion involved…

    Tim Duncan came on the floor and wasn\’t penalized in any way shape or form. Yet if one of the Sun\’s players had the foresight to turn the hard fould into an \”altercation\” then Duncan would of been suspended.

    Same exact behavior ranging from no punishment to extreme punishment all based on the actions of another. Does anyone think that makes any sense?

    Comment by John Gibson -

  49. I agree with Mr.Steve Kerr, you can\’t have it both ways. You can\’t have guys playing with passion in a highly emotional playoff game with intensity and at the same time expect them to become lame ducks. Its what makes the playoffs so great and there has to be more disgression.

    Comment by sangwon -

  50. I\’d like everyone to read comment #60. Obviously this woman has some problems… I dont know how many billionaires actually crawl out of garbage cans lady… and why would you criticize the fact that he\’s commenting on the NBA? is this not a blog? everyone may not agree w/ Marks antics or fines, but one thing no one can disagree with is that he is a great owner who cares about making his team win, and that he is good for the NBA.

    Comment by Adam -

  51. THANK YOU MARK! Your first post about basketball in a LONG time! Way overdue!

    Comment by Kilroy -

  52. To follow up on my agreement, I think there is something that most people are missing due to the players involved, and the impact of their not playing in game five. This rule is there to prevent an escalation. The rule is to prevent horrible fights that can\’t be broken up because there aren\’t enough assistants to hold back an entire team. This is one area where the NBA should not bend.

    I\’m all for a return of lax calls on fouls which could bring back the emotion that seems to have been stripped away from the game, but the problem in this case is that players are going to push the limits even though they know the rules. Amare and Boris knew they couldn\’t leave the bench. If they could, how far do they go? Do they get in Horry\’s face? If that is allowed too, does it go further? That is the problem with changes to this.

    As for comments on it not being normal to avoid going out to help a teammate, the key word is professional. By being a professional there are many things that we expect them not to do.

    That said there is a time to \”back up\” a teammate under certain circumstances, but there needs to be good teammates around for that end. As a Laker fan, I remember years ago when Danny Fortson was with Golden State, and he was bullying everyone on the court, and trying very hard to pick a fight with Shaq. Rick Fox finally had enough and knocked him over, then threw up his hands ready to fight. Shaq could of done that himself, but he knew his value to the team, and a good teammate stood in his place. With Phoenix, it needed to be someone else, and it\’s black and white. Fox stood up for Shaq, knowing there might be consequences. If you want to justify the actions, fine. But the consequences were well known before the act.

    Comment by George McCann -

  53. The real problem with this incident is that the San Antonio Spurs, the instigators, were rewarded for what happened. That is what\’s wrong. That\’s why interpretation HAS to be allowed becuz you can\’t reward the team that started it.

    What about Bruce Bowen racking Steve Nash earlier in the series? There was no penalty for that, but if there was it\’s likely that this Horry incident would\’ve never happened.

    The fact is that rules cannot just be black and white. If they are, that\’s great becuz all questioning is eliminated. But some things need to be open to interpretation. Was Amare\’s intent to go injure a player? No, he was speaking with the media.

    What about Tim Duncan leaving the bench? The NBA says there\’s no altercation, so Duncan was not reprimanded. But don\’t you think there could\’ve easily been an altercation? Of course. So let\’s say Phoenix actually starts something and Duncan has left the bench. Then Tim Duncan is punished and the Suns are rewarded for starting an incident. Like I said, this is wrong.

    You don\’t reward the instigating team for doing something dirty. That\’s why we need a rule change, hopefully a change that allows the commissioner and his colleagues use interpretation and judgment.

    Comment by James Stevens -

  54. I\’ve said it before and I\’ll say it again… If you want to rid sports of unnecessary fighting don\’t let other players get involved. So in the NBA\’s case I like the no leaving the bench rule. Although I think the suspensions rewarded the Spurs and was really not necessary for Amari I will explain my thoughts…

    How many times have you seen a player in the NBA talk sh*t to another player and then throw their arms around like two 9 year old girls? To many times if you ask me. Look at the Carmelo fight etc… Players only act like that cause they know their teammates will run over in two seconds and break it up.

    Same goes for baseball. How many times have we seen a pitcher go head hunting on a batter for whatever reason? He clearly knows that if he gets rushed by the batter that benches will clear and the fight will be broken up in two seconds. Doesn\’t take much of a man to go head hunting then. Imagine if the pitcher knew that if he hit the batter and got rushed that he would have to fight one on one with the batter. I guarantee the number of hits batsmen would drop to next to nothing and I also guarantee that very few pitchers would retaliate for the opposing pitcher hitting one of his teammates.

    I can see it now… a manager signals to his pitcher to hit the batter and we all see him shaking his head NO in fear cause he knows he\’d get his ass kicked.

    Point is most of these guys fight like girls and only talk sh*t cause they know the fight will get broken up in a minute anyways.

    You want to get rid of fighting in most sports… let them fight one on one. Fighting will drop to next to nothing overnight. Hockey is the obvious exception, but remember they\’re on skates, in protective gear and can only fight until they fall down. Baseball and basketball don\’t have those luxuries.

    If they\’re man enough to get in someones face and talk smack then let them fight like men. And trust me when I say there won\’t be too many fights.


    Comment by News Blog -

  55. On the one hand I agree, specifically about the replay aspect.. Tim Duncan would have got caught and it would have been fair.. plus they could see (i know this will be unpopular) how much of a drama queen steve nash is among others.. yes i understand it\’s part of the game to draw a foul.. but at some point, block the guy, steal the ball and quit \”acting\” the game and play the game and go for the damn ball!

    Congrats on Dirk being MVP.. I know you are proud of him.

    Comment by paisley -

  56. The thing that pisses me off is that David Stern said on TV last night that if over the summer if the owners want to change the rule he will. So basically he is saying that this iron clad rule can be voted away with ease. So the safety of the players/fans is not that important. And for him to say this did not change the outcome of the series is total B.S. Come on Cubes I know it was Nash but I think Stern just likes to come off like a hard ass. Just my Opinion -Ksal

    Comment by Keith -

  57. Been a great fan of your blog although I\’m a die-hard Lakers fan (and nothing is going to change it). Great to see that you are posting basketball related stuff. Don\’t get me wrong, I\’d always loved your view on non-basketball related issues however, you\’re always at your best whenever you\’re addressing the NBA and standing for what you believe in (which is sorely lacking nowadays). I\’d always respect those who believe in their own opinion and have no qualms saying it out loud.

    Would be great to get your comments on basketball issues closer to your heart (such as when the Mavs lost their 1st round playoff series or when you decided to sell off your team last summer). Although I\’m not a Mavs fan, I believe the franchise have a great future and curious that the owner has decided to keep quiet about it. It\’s like avoiding talking about the elephant in the room!

    Nevertheless, keep up whatever you\’re doing and Go Mavs!

    From: A Lakers fan who love and respect you and your team.

    Comment by Blaquesmith -

  58. Of course you can voice your opinion, your team didn\’t go anywhere……..neither did your big center whom I might add didn\’t deserve the MVP award. You are disgusting. With all the money you have, can\’t you clean up your act, look more presentable, buy a new wardrobe………for god sakes, you look like your crawled out of a garbage can.

    Comment by Becky Fox -

  59. Right on, Mark — as always.

    Comment by Pat Nemeth -

  60. I LOVE MICHAEL JORDAN – what about u ? see it at my site

    Comment by mbedeone -

  61. Hello Mark,

    You are completely solid on the two things that matter……..

    Player\’s understanding that there will be a tax on hard fouls, and a high tax on stupid hard fouls will make for a better game.

    The replay, with the matching effect of an instant effect on the immediate outcome, will be the linchpin to imposing the tax.

    Thanks for speaking out .


    Comment by Randy Geider -

  62. Also, a word like \”vicinity\” is totally ambiguous. Define the vicinity: 10 feet, 20 feet, what is it? Figure that out and put it in the rule book. Until that\’s clearly defined it\’s simply the league talking out both sides of its mouth.

    Comment by Brandon Johnson -

  63. I have to take offense with a few of the posters who said that mark would not feel the same way if it were him in this circumstance. I tend to recall a situation where a plain clothed D.J. Mbenga went into the stands to protect and calm a circumstance arising between a fan and Avery Johnsons wife. Mbenga was suspended for several games, and no fuss was made overit. The rule is the rule, regardless of the circumstance. They have been put in place for a reason. Mark is 100% correct. Obey the rules, or pay the price!

    Comment by Heath -

  64. Totally disagree, the rule is stupid, makes the NBA worse to watch, and if it such a great rule David Stern should have showed up in Phoenix to watch the game to get some feedback from his customers who paid big money to see that game the other night. The Spurs are the team who did something wrong, and Phoenix was punished for it. What difference does it make if a player on the bench walked 6 ft on the court. None.

    Comment by Adam -

  65. Then how about amending that rule with \”for any reason\” rather than allowing an event that transpires AFTER a player leaves the bench determine whether or not the rule is enforced at all. In other words, let\’s not put the league in a position of having to define what an altercation is or isn\’t.

    Comment by Brandon Johnson -

  66. Mark:

    I thought I agreed with you 100% on NBA matters, but here I have to part ways. The rule is NOT B&W. The rule states \”During an ALTERCATION, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate VICINITY of their bench.\” (emphasis added). Was the Horry foul the altercation? No! Stoudemire and Diaw reacted to the foul, not the ensuing pushing and shoving by Bell, etc. (that was the altercation). This is EXACTLY what Duncan did earlier in the game: he got off his bench and reacted to the hard foul on his teammate. And what exactly is \”vicinity\”? The play occurred very close to the Suns\’ bench. If Nash had been shoved INTO the Suns\’ bench, could the players move away, or would that also be leaving the bench?

    Compare this to the Baron Davis elbow to Derek Fisher\’s temple near the end of their Game 4. The rules pertaining to that incident are \”A player must be ejected for an elbow foul which makes contact above shoulder level. Even if a punch or an elbow goes undetected by the officials during the game, but is detected during a review of a videotape, that player will be penalized.\” And \”Whether or not said player is ejected, a fine not exceeding $35,000 and/or suspension may be imposed upon such player by the Commissioner at his sole discretion.\” Why was Baron Davis not suspended for his flagrant physical contact, while Stoudemire and Diaw are suspended for standing up and taking a few steps, and yet never actually reaching the altercation? The inconsistency is maddening.

    People wonder why NBA ratings down, year after year? Maybe real basketball fans are tired of the thuggery of the \”Bad Boy\” Pistons, then the 90s Knicks and Heat, and now the Spurs, and how the league lets them get away with it year after year.

    Comment by Marty from Martytown -

  67. Hi Mark,

    I agree with your idea that officials should be allowed to look at instant replay to review unsportsmanlike conduct. I have a good example as to why. There was a game last year between Toronto and New Jersey, where Carter and MoPete were playfully hitting each other, and one of the ref ejected MoPete for hitting Carter. Although this wasn\’t a case of unsportsmanlike conduct, I believe that something like this should be reviewed, especially when the \”victim\”, Carter, was pleading with the official that they were just playing around.

    Comment by Derek -

  68. Obviously this crap affected the outcome of this game,,,,it is a sad day for basketball

    Mark – You are quite hypocritical in this blog – You have made your name in basketball by challenging everything that is wrong to the tune of, what a million plus dollars? It is your natural instinct to stand up in the face of adversity when you feel something or someone has been wronged….do you think that just because you are doing it with money instead of your fists that it is any different?

    Comment by mike toler -

  69. While it\’s tough to swallow if you are a Suns\’ fan (I\’m not, go Clips!), the rule is what it is, and everyone knows it. After what happened in Detroit a few years ago, don\’t expect this to change. I fully support this rule.

    I do agree there is too much leeway in how some calls are made. I absolutely hate the flagrant foul rules. I agree with the spirit of them, but how they are implemented and called are never consistent. A flagrant 2 can have a huge impact on a game if it\’s called in the later part of the 4th quarter. I saw a situation awhile back where someone was going for a layup, with the ball over their head, the defensive player makes a hard foul, clearly playing for the ball, catches the arm, grazed the head, and it\’s a flagrant 2 for hitting the guy up top.

    Hard fouls are acceptable, and should be expected, especially in the playoffs. Head hunting is not, and should be a flagrant 2. But refs seem to be quick to call anything a flagrant these days.

    Comment by Dean -

  70. To everyone out there saying that it is the players\’ instinct to help a buddy that is being roughed up: Ins\’t that what Stephen Jackson did when he entered the stands to help out his buddy, Ron Artest a few years ago? Wasn\’t that instinct? Wasn\’t he \”being a man\”. Wasn\’t he being a good teamate? Wasn\’t he just sticking up for his pal?

    That kind of situation is the exact reason why the NBA must have a clear, concise, well understood rule. Left up for interpretation, and you get stuff like what happened in Detriot a few years ago.

    You leave the bench (for whatever reason) during an altercation, and you are gone for a game. It is as clear as that. Everyone knows it. By the way, this is why Duncan and Bowen were not suspended, because they did not leave the bench during an altercation.

    Bravo to the NBA for eliminating uncertainty with this rule and for sticking by the rule and applying it the way it was intended.

    Comment by TN -

  71. I am a huge Mark Cuban because I thought he actually knew something about this great game. But for you to say that this suspension was the right thing for the league to do is insane. Both Cuban and Stern have lost all my respect. Why didn\’t Stern go to the game as scheduled? Everyone knows that this is not why the rule was put in place. \”I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.\”- B. Madison

    Comment by Andrew -

  72. My question – if Dirk and Terry had been suspended for a game (when you were down 3-2 to Golden State) for something just like this, how would you feel? Right then and there (not now). Honestly?

    I do agree about there being some merit in a rule that\’s iron clad/black and white – not as subject to opinion and other variables. This however is a difficult issue. As many have pointed out, it\’s a natural reaction to get up and defend someone who was in the situation Nash was in. In those two seconds, they reacted, and then remembered the rule.

    You might as well take all emotion and excitement out of the game if you\’re going to enforce \”iron clad\” rules such as that. The rule overall is a great rule – it\’s eliminated bench clearing brawls. Maybe baseball needs that.

    In any event, I think the rule needs to be refined. Ultimately the Suns may have lost their chance to make it to the Finals; for a rule instituted to stop fighting, when they didn\’t even throw a punch.

    Comment by Ed -

  73. I completely agree that ironclad rules without grey area are important, however, this rule, while it seems ironclad, doesn\’t account for what an altercation really is.

    When the two players in question hopped up, they went to see if Nash was okay. At that point, there was no altercation. There is no rule saying a player can\’t step on the court to make sure a hurt player is okay (which is what Duncan did, and the reason he wasn\’t suspended for it). The altercation started once Raja rushed Horry.

    To make this rule ironclad, you\’d have to say players can\’t leave the bench unless they\’re checking into a game. That leaves no grey area. If that rule is in place, this entire debate doesn\’t exist.


    Moreover, I\’m curious about why the flagrant foul review suggestion has been shot down. The technology is in place (used to review last minute shots). The \”flow of the game\” is already broken after an event like that anyway. There doesn\’t appear to be any reasonable merit in not reviewing the hit.

    Comment by Jermaine -

  74. Yes, the recommendation for instant-replay review is solid. Media coverage of our sporting events is so advanced in the year 2007, with so many cameras and eyes on the action, it\’s not a surprise that fans are getting ever more frustrated with officiating. Millions of people can see on television (especially HD), and thousands of people can see on the arena video what really happened on any particular play.

    Yet, here in the first decade of the 21st century we still rely on the eyes of three middle-aged men to make the correct call and determine the outcome of not just a game, but the destinies of people\’s careers and fortunes. This may sound overdramatic but ask any fan who has watched their team lose a game on a wrong call.

    It\’s time for the world\’s first full-time video referee. The NBA should be the league to do it.

    Comment by ATH -

  75. San Antonio = Dirty Team

    Well, Mark the Dirty Team reduced the beautiful basketball to gutter-ball and one has to wonder about San Antonio\’s reputation for the future. I was kinda rooting for San Antonio but after seeing the whole team play DIRTY, guess am not going to watch NBA until they clean up dirty plays.

    I believe that the DIRTY TEAM (as a team) wanted to rile up the Suns and committed the horrendous fouls and they succeeded.

    Me being from the Southern California region heard a lot of comments for both NBA die-hard and occasional viewers, that if the Dirty team is headed for the finals, they most probably will not watch and Capitalism is working.


    Comment by Kamma -

  76. What do we do when human instinct conflicts with rules put in place by authority? We can change the rule, or we can train the employees to surpress their instinct. Since Mark Cuban and David Stern seem to be just about the only ones who expect players to surpress their instincts in order to honor the rules put in place by them, why don\’t they LEAD BY EXAMPLE. This fall before training camps begin, all NBA players should be invited to Dallas for \”instinct surpression training\” – The training seminar will be led by David Stern, Mark Cuban, and somebody close to each of them. All the NBA players can watch as Mark Cuban assualts David Stern\’s loved one/best buddy while David Stern remains seated with his phoney smile on his face. Then it will be Stern\’s turn to assualt Mark Cuban\’s loved one/best buddy as Mark explains to the audience how it is so damn easy to just grin and bear it. As it is well known throughout the NBA that Stern and Cuban are strong adversaries, it should add credence to the entire show. After the feature presentation, the players can break up into small groups, such as Wade/Shaq and Bryant/Odum, and they can take turns beating each other as their teamate looks on. Once Shaq is comfortable sitting still as Kobe pounds on Wade, you can throw Odum in and they can do a 2 on 1 until Wade collapses.

    Comment by Ron -

  77. The rule itself might be said to be \”iron clad\”, but when the notion of \”altercation\” remains widely subjective, the rule and its application (especially in this case) are simply dependant on the whims of David Stern and Stu Jackson.
    I agree that Amare and Diaw should have been suspended as per the rule, but to follow that judgement by playing semantics with what is and is not an \”altercation\”, as Stern and Jackson did in not suspending Duncan and Bowen, is just embarrassing.
    They (Stern and Jackson) expect ball players to be able to control themselves and show clarity and restraint in the heat of the moment; but even with the benefit of time and instant replays, these two were unable to muster the competence to do the right thing. Nothing short of a disgrace.

    Comment by Rigbo -

  78. Have to say that I agree on all points – what frustrates me most about the NBA is the lack of consistency… how many times have we seen players take a step or two on the court when there are two guys staring each other down? ALL THE TIME, but rarely is it an issue. But here, because it was commented on by the play by play guys, because it was put under a microscope and the NBA was forced to address its rule, it\’s a suspension. Same goes for \’star calls\’, \’rookie calls\’, \’make-up call\’ and anything else that applies to one guy, or to one instant, but not another. You can know the rules all you want, but what does that matter when you don\’t know when the rules apply?!
    As for the replay for flagrant 2\’s… sort of semi-agree. I think it could be as effective, but less time-consuming, if every game was reviewed after, and players were fined or suspended at that point. But yeah, something has to be happen, because as much as we all love to ride the refs, and it\’s actually impressive how much they can catch, they can\’t humanly catch everything. But eventually, it\’s likely, and nearly understandable, that someone gets undercut by someone (um, wonder who?) and decides that if the NBA has proven that they\’re not going to do something, they\’re going to (90\’s hockey style) which would be ugly.

    Comment by Pat -

  79. To all the people who use the \”if someone in your office was getting beat down, you would automatically jump in\” argument: Nash had 4 teammates on the floor with him to defend him. It was 5 on 5. It\’s the same rule in hockey. If you come off the bench during an altercation, you will get suspended. End of story. Hockey is much more violent than basketball, with stars getting suckered all the time, but you don\’t see people jumping over the boards to \”see what\’s going on\”. It\’s up to the other 4 guys on the court/ice to take care of business.

    Comment by Scott -

  80. I know this is far fetched . . . but I just want a little consistency. On the Mike and Mike show they showed Tim Duncan come on the court to the 3 point line when he thought there would be an altercation on the other side of the court. What was the difference? The only difference was that there actually was an altercation after Nash was fouled. And for all the people that keep saying that Stoudemare jumped out of his seat to see what happened. He was already standing up along with his whole bench. And like any good teammate who values their MVP he wanted to make sure that everything was all right. He had to go on the court to get around his coaches and other teammates. He did choose to do that, it was not just human nature or internal. He chose to go check on his MVP. I would have done the same thing.

    This next comment might be a little biased since I am a Jazz fan but what was the difference between the foul on Nash by Horry and the foul on Okur by Richardson. Richardson took Okur out when he went for a dunk and there was an altercation between the two after the foul. But Richardson played the next game with no suspension.??? What about when Davis elbowed his good friend Fisher in the ear??? Luckily for Davis, Fisher said that he was sure that it was not intentional.

    I\’m just asking for consistency no matter who committed the foul or who went on the court. If you are going to call it, then make sure it is consistent with what you have done in the past.

    GO JAZZ!!!

    Comment by Ryan -

  81. As a hardcore Mavericks fan I\’m disappointed this is your stance Mark, real disappointed. If you were in a cube environment and saw someone walk up to the guy next to you, and then started to push him, would you just sit there continuing with your work or would you stand up and see if there\’s something you could do – aka human nature. Unless a bench player touches another player, or gets in the face of anyone, I dont believe there should be a suspension. Someone definitely shouldn\’t be suspended for reacting like a normal human being in wanting to make sure everything is alright.

    Comment by Maarten -

  82. M-

    I knew you would blog about that play…I must say I\’m glad you did sir, however, I saw Duncan go on the court in the 2nd quarter (as Steve Kerr indicated on ESPNRADIO and I verified w/ my trusty TIVO), yet he didnt get suspended?

    Would \”Jesus\” Bryant get suspended? Would Jordan get suspended for what Amare did? I highly doubt it.

    I know you can\’t comment and I hope you read this…DO YOU THINK DUNCAN AND THE SPURS GOT CRAWFORD SUSPENDED ON PURPOSE? Hear me out here…they know that he would make the game more difficult for a \”hack-squad\” like the Spurs and knew that he would make calls to hurt their chances at a championship? Something to ponder in the wonderful world of the Association.

    Comment by RJ -

  83. Mark,
    When I was in grade school, basketball was my fav sport. Pistol Pete, Dr J, even Kareem were my heroes. But as I got older, either the NBA changed or my perceptions of it did. Rules enforcement seemed to be optional. Traveling? 3 second rule? Fouls? All seemed to be subjective. This really turned me off to the sport – I like consistancy. The league and owners would always say that they were making the game \”more exciting\” for the fans. Not this fan. I gave up on the NBA. Then recently I started reading your blog. Wow! Someone who actually cares about the sport. Maybe there is hope. But then how does the NBA reward you for trying to help? Fines. The end result for me is I still won\’t watch the NBA games (I do like the NCAA 64), but I will keep hoping for more owners like you.

    Keep putting you opinions in your blog. It ALWAYS makes me think.


    Comment by Jim -

  84. I think that the rules are there to protect the fans in the event of an \”all out brawl\” so I agree with Marc Cubans thoughts.
    Sure, its hard to agree when you remember Mbenga, I still think that was morally wrong to punish him…….but there are also instances when things have more of a tendency to get out of control. True, a stroll up into the stands isn\’t exactly the same as getting off the bench, but ultimately the goal is the same…fan protection.
    We don\’t want to go back to the mentality of \”I went to a fight last night and a basketball game broke out.\” do we. Then where is the game of basketball?

    Comment by Monica from Dallas -

  85. You are wrong about this. You are in the entertainment business yet you would vote in favor of keeping your product less entertaining? Sadly, what has changed most in the league over the past 10 years has been a steady decline in the passion players play with. Sure some teams/players are exceptions, and sure, bloated gauranteed salaries play a big role, but passing stupid regulations to try and keep a lid on it is also to blame. 10 years ago I rarely watched college bball, always watched and went to the pro\’s. Today I watch college often, and rarely watch more than a quarter or 2 a week of the league. Because college games are now more fun to watch than the NBA.

    Comment by big john stud -

  86. I agree with McCann\’s opinion on the charge/flop situation. But that\’s a different story.

    I have to weigh in with the vast majority on this one, Mark, and against you. Yes, the players all know the rule and should adhere to it. But just ask yourself if the punishment fits the crime. Suspending two players — stars or not — a game for doing absolutely nothing to exacerbate the situation? It\’s just silly and non-productive. It doesn\’t have to be an interpretation. It can be iron-clad if you just made the rule that no bench player should come in contact with another team\’s player, even if they\’re helping the situation.

    Look, rules and laws have an underlying spirit. Cops don\’t hand out tickets to every single jaywalker they see, only if they\’re endangering themselves or others. Judges look at context when handing out punishments.

    And speaking of context, Horry\’s hipcheck wasn\’t in the heat of a close game. That would have been more excusable. The game was decided.

    Anyway, glad to see you writing on something interesting for a change!

    Comment by GM -

  87. I agree with your thoughts on the rule. People may forget the NY/MIA incident years ago, when this rule was either brought about, or popularized. Either way, I think Horry was the only person in the game that was in the NBA before this period. These players have known of this rule EVERY game they have played, and they knew the results, which is why Amare lied about what he was doing.

    As for the review, I would add it, but only with one additional circumstance. I think the way the charge/blocking is called is ruining the NBA. A player only gets the call if they fall down, and \”good\” defenders have over used this to absurd proportions. I think charge/blocks should be reviewed, and if the ref doesn\’t believe that the person was literally knocked down, it should result in a technical for flopping. Since it is at a stop in the game, it shouldn\’t delay the game, and hopefully this will mean less players on the ground during a game. The game was meant to be played in an upright position, and bodies unnecessarily littering the court trying to force calls not only ruins the integrity of the game, but increase the risk of injury.

    As an NBA fan, I appreciate your continued efforts to provide us with the best product you can.

    Comment by George McCann -

  88. Mark,

    First let me say I love what you have done for the NBA. I hope you never entertain the idea of getting out of the business, because you are a hope for many to change the asinine way that the league office runs the Association.

    I disagree with you, however on this issue. I think it is wrong to ever interpret a rule so strictly where it would lead to the most absurd of consequences. There are a number of problems with the decision in this case.

    1. Was there even an altercation? I know that Nash and Bell had words with Horry after he hipchecked Nash into the scorer\’s table but things did not escalate beyond that. Stoudemire and Diaw were not even in the vicinity. I think there has to be atleast one punch thrown before it has escalated to the level that was first contemplated when the rule was introduced.

    2. It is the natural instinct of any human being to ensure that a friend is alright after being subject to a heinous act. Diaw has never been charged with a technical foul in his life. A self described pacifist, I honestly believe that he was in this instance trying to see if his teammate and friend was alright. Stoudimire additionally when you view the replays was headed in the direction of where Nash was lying on the floor and not toward Horry. Even after being fully educated on the rule [as both Diaw and Stoudemire admitted they were] could you honestly say you would have restrained yourself in the circumstances? I know I couldn\’t.

    3. Finally Stern\’s defense of his decision on the Dan Patrick show only infuriated me more. His condescending tone and his \”woe is me\” attitude further entrenched in my mind, how egotistical, obtuse and stuck in his own ways this man has become. He has completely ignored common sense in this situation and won\’t even hear any criticisms to this effect.

    I know you have openly criticized Stern in the past in relation to officiating and I am surprised you are defending him here.

    If the Spurs go on to win this series and it looks like they will after tonight\’s victory I will seriously contemplate whether I will follow the NBA anymore. I am sick and tired of the controversy, the bastardized product of ball that is put on the floor and Stern\’s dictatorial control over all things concerned with this league [ex: No appeal process. Give me a #$#$!% break]


    Keep up the Great Work Mark. I enjoy your posts.

    Donald Sullivan

    Comment by Donald Sullivan -

  89. My solution?

    Right now, you\’ve got tostesterone and pride fueling the coolness factor behind doing things like running into the stands to fight fans. Sometimes the only connection between these larger-than-life players and their fans is on the court, and not fighting for your teammate on the court becomes the equivalent of letting your friend get his ass kicked in real life. Fans will only understand the difference when the players acknowledge that their environment is controlled, but not before. I believe that if Stoudamire and Diaw were threatened by the label of a Rodeo Clown, they would\’ve shown more restraint.

    Comment by j.verhine -

  90. After some thought, I agree with you that the players should have stay put.

    This is after I was up in arms yesterday about the fact that I also believe that it is natural to protect your teammate, and that only those involved should be penalized.

    The difference between the bodycheck in the game and watching your friend get his ass kicked lies in the environment. In an uncontrolled environment, it is clearly instinct to help. The NBA is as controlled as a petri dish, player. Let\’s just say Rob Horry uppercutted Steve Nash. What\’s he going to do? Get away? It\’s nationally televised from every angle. We\’re not dealing with a wild bull and a matador, in some obscure parking lot in Guadalajara.

    Comment by j.verhine -

  91. the whole think stinks to high heaven. i saw david stern on PTI today and was just disgusted by the complete and utter lack of inflexibility with this rule. why not reward diaw and stoudamire for actually exhibiting some restaint and professionalism once logic and reason intercepted thier natural instinct to rush the defense of an assaulted teammate. i\’m not a suns fan by any means, but goddamn i\’m pissed for them right now. i\’m sure that san antonio would make an horry for diam/stoudamire swap any day of the week.

    Comment by the cajun boy -

  92. Afer all of this outrage over this suspension and, I think, the overall way the referees are handling this series, a new idea struck me. Why not make the officials commission employees? After each game they get a rating and the higher the rating the more they get paid. For example, a really good ref could gross 500K while a really bad ref would only make 50K, thus weeding the lower earning ref out. Just a thought, but I think it would solve the poor officiating (Which is the root of this problem) problem for good.

    Comment by Michael Cave -

  93. Mark, I actually agree with you in principle. We can\’t have 24 grown men out there duking it, settling issues. Think back to 2004, the malace at the palace, that was only a handful of guys and it took 15-20 minutes to stop the fighting. Players know the rule, and now they only know that even more so with how much coverage this has gotten.

    By the way: On ESPN\’s Cold Pizza show (now First Take) Skip Bayless was critical of your tears for Dirk and I felt that was ridiculous. You care a lot about your team, more than anyone could know and you were just conveying that. I can\’t understand why everyone is so critical of you.

    Comment by David Spohn -

  94. The problem with rules enforcement undertaken without discretion is that it ensures penalties incongruous to their crimes. For every disaster adjudicated (if not averted), there\’s an unnecessarily inflated molehill. Sure, the use of discretion invites its misuse, but that\’s why one hires smart, honest, emotionally stable people to wield it. The potential to render extinct punishments unfit for crimes is worth the risk that competent, experienced, intelligent people with the occasional benefit of hindsight will miss one here and there. Besides, if not for his discretion, why does Stu Jackson have a job?

    Comment by Josh Ellison -

  95. I think the reason that the Sun\’s players questioned why it was enforced is because the NBA \”Stern\” aren\’t enforcing the rules consistently. Bowen and Duncan also stepped onto the floor but they aren\’t being suspended.

    It seems to me that Stern, sorry I mean the NBA, have too much discretion in regards to who gets punished. There seems to a little nepotism going on. For example: Duncan.

    Don\’t get me wrong I like Duncan but he cries and gets his way almost every time.

    Comment by Aaron -

  96. If the Spurs win this series, it\’s going to be bad for basketball. First, it\’ll mean a likely Spurs-Pistons matchup in the finals. I love the Pistons, but that series would be a constant wrestling match. Second, it\’ll demonstrate that the run-and-gun style of play isnt\’ viable in the post season, meaning it won\’t be worth running in the playoffs. Basketball\’s exciting nature is a function of the athletic and high-speed moves the guys make. Turning the playoffs into the \”Bruce Bowen and Raja Bell trading hard fouls show\” isn\’t quite as exciting as Parker and Nash taking their teams up and down the court.

    The ridiculous thing is that the league lets these teams get away with it. Don\’t change the way you call the game in the playoffs, allowing harder fouls and not ejecting players for flagrant misconduct. Hockey is suffering the fallout from taking a naturally exciting game and letting plodding defense and thuggery get in the way of artistry–but more importantly, not adjusting the rules accordingly and in a timely manner. Still, at least in hockey there are in-game mechanisms for dealing with this kind of play: if Bowen (or Horry) knew that a forward on the other team could literally beat him unconscious for any one of five plays this series, and all that player would suffer would be a quarter-length suspension, I assume we\’d have a very different game on our hands. Not a better game, but at least one with real consequences for targeting star players.

    Changing the way the game is called in the playoffs changes the product. Imagine if the NFL did something like that: allowed contact between the receiver and defender anywhere on the field in the playoffs. You\’d have linebackers playing corner and knocking the receivers fifteen yards off the field. You\’d have pre-1930 football. Does the NBA help or hurt their product by calling playoff games in a way that makes the games less fun to watch?

    Comment by Cullen -

  97. Mark,

    I am surprised at the position you take on this subject. I can\’t imagine you feeling the same if the Maverick\’s were on the short end of this decision. It\’s impossible to fathom that the Suns are at a competitive disadvantage based on actions instigated by the Spurs. It\’s an old NHL procedure…send out the no-skill player to check the other team\’s star, and hope that both get penalized. I hope the Suns send out the bench players to instigate a brawl in the first two minutes tonight so that Spurs starters can be ejected, then play the game. Is this the message the NBA wants to send? Suns-Spurs has been a great playoff series for the fans, so just leave it to the NBA to damage the product they are trying to sell.

    Comment by Bill Cutler -

  98. The NBA is getting soft. Horry\’s foul wasnt\’t even that bad. It was a hard blocking foul. Nash kinda flopped by throwing his hands back when he was on the ground. It was cheap, but I don\’t believe it should merit a two game suspension. 2nd, Stoudemire and Diaw didn\’t do anything, they didn\’t even show up in the tv cameras. The rule on leaving the bench needs to be changed, so at least the NBA doesn\’t ruin a playoff series becasue they fell they have to enforce some dumb rule.

    Comment by JT -

  99. Hey Mark, I think its way out of hand in professional sports the way that emotions are left unchecked and intentional violence is the end result. Learned behaviour. Its becoming ok to smack someone and take a \”fine\” that is mere pocket change to most players if that. Sports initially when created way way back was to teach team work, self confidence, self DISCIPLINE and other positive things that come with growing up. It is a lot harder but builds character to suck it up and walk away then it does to stand there and bitch like a sissy or want to throw blows because you didnt get your own way. I see a bunch of spoiled men that are still in thier diapers when it comes to sucking it up like a man and walking away. There will NEVER be a day when everyone agrees with the officials. Get over it and get back to work. Thanks for the thoughts

    Comment by Frankie from Lawnside -

  100. Whitney….they get paid to play basketball….dont gimmie the crap about control…especially dont tell me end of story….this and the tuck rule a few years ago are first ballot officiating hale of shamers…

    Whatever you do for a living wether it bea lawyer, a construction worker, a doctor, or a waitress…you are being paid for it…which technically makes you a professional at it. With that said, if your buddy who was working in the same profession was knocked to the ground, would your instinct be to come to his aid….do not tell me that this is a basketball issue…It is a human issue…If Amare and Boris worked at Burger King they would be coming to the aid of Steve Nash…if they worked at Dewey, Screwem, and Howe law firm and Mr. Nash was assulted by a client Amare and Boris would come to his aid…Millions of dollars do not make you any less likely to react like a normal human being than one dollar

    Comment by mike toler -

  101. Mark –

    You\’re forgetting one important thing. Back in 2001 (or so, I don\’t remember exactly) there was a fight on the court and you ran out onto the court but was escrorted off by officials. In the postgame interview, you said it was a natural reaction. This has to be taken into consideration with the bench rule.

    Comment by Mike -

  102. Obviously they have to be suspended. The reason that it is a black and white rule is because the NBA does not want an all out brawl to take place. That would degrade the players and the entire game. We are not watching the joke that is hockey. We are watching basketball, and I believe the sport is above all of that. Yes it sucks that the Amare got taken out of a pivotal game five which will make the game more one sided, and possibly worse to watch, but if they do not enforce the rule then another brawl will take place.

    To all of the people out their saying its natural to jump off the bench:

    These are professionals who should be in charge of their emotions. Jet Terry could not control himself, and that is why he got suspended. Amare and Diaw did not control themseleves and that is why they are suspended end of story. They are professionals and should act like it.

    Comment by Michael Whitney -

  103. Isnt this just a pendulum swinging towards \’iron-clad\’, thus away from \’discretion\’?

    With the current quality of officiating, tendencies of the league office, and willingness-to-push-the-envelope players, is iron-clad really better for the NBA?

    That\’s a tough call.

    Would this have worked 10 years ago?

    Good luck.

    Comment by Cary -

  104. Sorry, Mark, you usually get it right, but I don\’t think did this time. There has to be some room to consider both intent and actual consequences. These two reacted on instinct, not intent to injure, and there were absolutely no negative consequences to their walking a few feet away from the bench. Ironclad rules are never a good idea, in law or in sports. That\’s why we have judges, and why we should have competent NBA officials.

    Comment by Ed Morgan -

  105. I\’ve heard 2 rational people in this entire uproar: You and David Stern. You\’re an NBA owner. It is in your interest to not have major altercations. As you point out, these are situations of high emotion where intentionality is almost impossible to determine. A bright line in a case like this isn\’t a bad thing– it\’s a great thing, and if the NBA would enforce these bright lines with consistency, even better. Thank you for the sanity, Mark. Thank you.

    Comment by Jonathan Chavez -

  106. I think the frustrating thing is that Amare and Boris got suspensions, but Tim Duncan did not. He was so far onto the court that he was past the three point line. It looks like it shows favoritism by penalizing the Suns and not the Spurs. If you strictly enforce the rule of a player leaving the bench, then both Duncan and Bowen should get suspended too. Therein lies the rub.

    Comment by Tai -

  107. Mark,

    You must be joking… I have read your blog for a long time and that if this was Dirk and Terry, you would be up in arms over this rule. It is wrong to have any rule in the books that will end up deciding a playoff series.

    On a side note, I must admit I am a huge Suns fan. As a matter of fact, I\’m a huge Mavericks fan. I enjoy watching fast paced, up-tempo basketball. There is no doubt, that that the Suns vs. Mavericks is the crme dela crme of basketball and one of the best sporting event to watch in all of profession sports.

    Comment by Gabe -

  108. well said

    Comment by Brent Whitten -

  109. well said

    Comment by Brent Whitten -

  110. Mark,

    For the most part I agree with your comments. But…(yes, there is always a \”but\”)–neither Boris nor Amare impacted anything by leaving the bench area. They were not, as far as I could tell, involved in the incident. They were stopped not by the refs, but by their own coaches. Boris and Amare didn\’t escalate the problem. They thought about it, then stopped.

    It\’s a tough call, but at some point interpretation and evaluation is essential.

    Good post!



    Comment by Tim -

  111. What about Tim Duncan wandering out on the court for the \”non-altercation\”? Does that deserve a suspension too?

    Comment by t -

  112. I am really incensed by this…does the NBA stand for No Balls Allowed?

    If I was getting beat down or getting sucker punched or shoved or what ever and my buddy\’s natural instinct was not to have my back or stick up for me, I would question his loyalty and friendship

    Any friend of mine who didn\’t back me up should have his balls removed and have to consent to a sex change operation to convert to his actions of being a woman.

    It is so easy to\’s a rule – human nature, passion, inspiration, et al are not governed by rules..they are governed by emotion and have no racial bias and no age bias

    This isn\’t a WWJD moment…this is a What Would You Do moment….
    We have been doing it since we were kids….if there is a fight we all gravitate to it…not because we want to but because we are compelled to ….internally, not by choice, but by emotion

    Anyone who disagrees, including Mark Cuban has either a)never had his ass kicked, b) never seen a friend in a fight, or c) should really question whether or not they need to make an announcement about their sexual orientation.

    Comment by mike toler -

  113. Perfect, I felt the same way too when there was discussion about it. If you see something happen you might as well sit right back down. It sucks that you can\’t help your teammates but it\’s there to make sure a royal rumble doesn\’t take place. Players need to learn from the Pacers and from Melo.

    Comment by -

  114. m

    Have you ever been around when a buddy was getting his ass kicked? It is not natural to restrain yourself.

    With that said…every other rule that the refs call in the NBA is so loosely interpreted. Kobe Bryant got suspended for doing less than Bowen has done in this series…not once but twice…If the rules are written so clearly we should never have to hear an announcer say \”He\’s a rookie…the refs arent going to give him that call\”….I agree with the point of B&W on the issue but if 90% of calls are gray, how can you defend the 10% black and white?


    If not your product will suffer – we can all go watch the WWE if we want a MAN SOAP OPERA….otherwise GET CONISISTENT

    Comment by mike toler -

  115. I agree, Mark–the easiest way to make players be more cognizant of the consequences of their actions, ill-intent or not, is to enforce all rules with a zero-tolerance policy. I especially like the idea of instant reply and think the officials should have the option of reviewing any suspect play that has implications outside of the current game, including intentionally injuring someone. That\’s not basketball.

    Comment by JD -

  116. You have overlooked one thing – human instinct. It\’s human instinct to go help a friend when he/she is in trouble. That\’s what happened here. Boris and Amare reacted to Nash being toss around like a rag doll. In the 2 seconds between them reacting and their brains catching up to their instincts it was too late – they travelled \”20 to 25 feet\” from the bench. It\’s tough to be penalized for being a good teammate…strike that…good friend.

    Comment by MB -

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