Hammer Time: Anthony, Knicks, Nuggets Hit Hard

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David Stern was measured, but at times his anger was apparent. He was sleep-deprived, annoyed and incensed. It all added up to the most significant penalties since the infamous Malice at the Palace two years ago. Here’s the bottom-line:

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer, was suspended 15 games for his actions in what some are calling the Grapple in the Apple Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Anthony punched Knicks rookie Mardy Collins, who had horse-collared Nuggets guard J.R. Smith to ignite the worst melee in Garden history. The fight occurred in the final minutes of the Nuggets 123-100 rout.

Anthony will be eligible to return to action January 20 when the Nuggets face the Houston Rockets on the road.

Knicks guard Nate Robinson, whose actions escalated the fracas at a juncture when things seemed to be settling, was suspended for 10 games, as was Smith.

Collins was suspended for 6 games.

Knicks forward Jared Jeffries, who went after Anthony following the punch, was suspended for 4 games.

Two players – Jarome James of the Knicks and Nuggets forward Nene – were suspended one game each for leaving their respective benches.

“We have a goal of eliminating fighting from our game,” Stern said. “But we obviously haven’t eliminated it completely….Clearly we’re not getting through. Our players in some circumstances do not want to be restrained. I suggest those players will not have long careers in the NBA. We’ve made our intentions clear here.”

In an unprecedented move, Knicks and Nuggets were each fined$500,000

“Teams must be held accountable,” Stern said during a conference call Monday afternoon. “We have an obligation to take steps to avoid making these mistakes in the future.”

Neither Isiah Thomas nor George Karl were punished, despite reports that Thomas may have warned Anthony to stay out fo the lane, inferring that a hard foul was abut to ensue. “My finding was that there as not adequate evidence to warrant a determination [on the coaches].” said Stern.

Karl called Thomas a “jerk” and an “asshole” in a scrum with reporters just after the fines were announced. He denied running up the score and essentially defended his team as “learning how to win on the road” as justification for having four starters on the floor in the waning minutes. “He has the same team on the floor that had whittled a 25-point lead down to 10,” Karl said. Stern was clearly not enthralled with the comments, saying he’d allow the Nuggets ownership to deal with Karl. “If it goes beyond the heat of the moment, I’ll deal with it myself,” he warned.

“My main concern is stopping the escalation,” Stern also said. “It’s important to know that if you have to pull way to take a shot at another player you will be harshly dealt when…If we don’t do that we allow people to get the wrong impression [about the game.]”


10 thoughts on “Hammer Time: Anthony, Knicks, Nuggets Hit Hard

  1. I still can’t take this all in. The punishments seem appropriate, but boy is this story multilayered. Stars fighting scrubs. Tiny scrubs (hey Nate Robinson!) playing the hold me back game against bigger stars (Anthony). Keeping starters in the game during garbage time. ABA former player/NC Tar Heel/coach versus NBA HofF’er/Indiana/Fired NC Tar Heel coach coach. And of course, flashes of the snitching ethic video hanging like a stench over the whole mess. While the NBA hasn’t gone back to the Maurice Lucas days of the 70s, it sure seems like there’s something simmering just under the surface, and this “Grapple in the Apple” is just one instance of it bubbling up. I swear I wouldn’t be surprised if Isiah Thomas and another coach just lost it and began squabbing at midcourt. At these times, I’m glad the drama of the Lakers seem to be long in the past.

  2. Jake McDonald says:

    Jerome James came off the bench because it was the only time he would get to touch the court outside of warmups.

    One thing is for sure the Knicks won’t look any worse than they already do.

    Zeke needs to stop reminiscing on his days as a Pistons guard and start coaching. He has a 6’11” 300lb center that’s less than dominant, a shooting guard that left his touch at Depaul, and a point guard who’s best contribution to basketball was a pair $14.99 sneakers. Heck he needs to threaten his team more than the other team.

    By the way, I never thought I would say this but MJ-‘his airness’ needs to take a page out of Marbury’s book.

    Gamer: Marbury for his affordable $14.99 sneakers

    Buster: Jordan for his $160 sneakers

  3. Dirk de Young says:


    Sorry for you about all the explanations you had to make to your son. Most of us 50 something sports fans also played sports at some time or another. Back then any kind of disrespect for the refs or other players was swiftly handled. These days it seems to have become part of the circus! and I mean circus. Pro Sports seems to become less and less about the game and more and more about the gamesmanship. I have of late more and more just forgotten about pro-sports and retreated into the world of college sports.

    The pumped up on steroids record breaking, the most memorable moments of a season not being a e.g. bradshaw to swann/stallworth balletic/athletic game breaking pass reception, but a “grapple in the apple?”

    The “last” time I took my son to a baseball game, there was about a 30 minute interlude following a hit batter, who proceeded to attack the pitcher and then the next pitcher also hit the batter, and then the dugouts cleared and everybody rumbled, what it meant was that in half an hour+ there were a total of two pitches thrown. Wow, what excitement!!

    I guess for some fans this is exciting. There are so many great moments in pro sports and so many amazing athletic accomplishments, but this kind of stuff should be out and when it causes injury to another player there should be also criminal charges.

    If I wanted see that kind of circus, I would stick to pro-wrestling. I say performance enhancing drugs out and gangsterism out!! Whatever it takes.
    Your sons feelings of sticking up for his teamates is an admirable feeling, I would have felt the same way in his situation probably, but it only suggests a lack of confidence in the authority that governs sport and society that he doubts that the offenders in these cases will get what they deserve without the necessity of direct action by the players. Why not just suspend them all for the whole season. Basketball, Football and Baseball are more important than any individual players, they are all very privileged people and they need to get their feet back on the ground.

  4. Richard says:

    I completely disagree with the sentiment that this was not harsh enough. I hope the inevitable NBAPA grievence is uphold and Anthony (possibly others) are back on the court in less time. Yes, they should have been suspended, but this was out-of-line.

    More thoughts:


  5. Pete says:

    Umm Dirk despite ‘gangsterism and performance enhancing drugs’ there is far less fighting in the NBA today than there was twenty years ago.

  6. Juan says:

    Totally agree with Pete.

    I would probably argue that there was just as many drugs, in fact, a lot of very harmful drugs back in the leagues in the 1980s, and even before that? Greenies in baseball, Pittsburgh coke scandal of the 80s implicating some GREAT players, NBA drug scandal involving some GREAT players, etc.

    Violence.. Does no one recall the Pistons of the late 80s?

    I have lots of old NBA games and videos put out by the league like tapes of the Celtics and Lakers series of 1984-85 as well as 1987-88 , and some Larry Legend videos and they all show Rambis getting into it with McHale, Kaeem mixing it up, Danny Ainge getting elbowed by Rambis, Bird fouling Dr. J hard, etc. It seems to be it is sanctioned when selling NBA videos.

    Heck on NBA on TNT, they chuckle when they show Charles Barkley fighting Shaq. They show replay after replay of this. The league could easily tell them to knock this off,but they won’t.

    Heck ESPN has a Top Ten NBA fight bit.

    A good number of these fights were in the playoffs.

    We seem to forget things conveniently like that. We always think we were better than we actually were.

  7. Carl says:

    Having been a Detroit Piston fan all my life, I remember what a fierce competitor and incredible talent Isiah Thomas was on the court. Unfortunately, many of us in the Detroit area also remember what an undignified street punk Isiah Thomas could be when he was out in public. I’ve had several individuals in the Detroit area tell me several first hand accounts of Isiah’s nasty temper and punk behavior inside resturaunts and bars. Isiah finds it nearly impossible to maintain his poise under pressure before his fighting temper flairs. The sooner the Nicks get rid of Thomas……. the better off they will be.

  8. Aaron says:

    It really doesn’t matter how the fight started, the bottom line is these men are professionals. What other profession (besides boxing) will allow someone to fight and still have a Job? It’s my opinion that in the future all physical altercations (fighting) should be dealt with through a one year dismissal from the game. I’ll bet you players will think four or five time before throwing that first punch. It seems to me that anger management course ought to be offered in addition to practice. Just because you’re a millionaire, doens’t give you the right to be an ass. It’s time to grow up and take some responsibility.

  9. Daryl says:

    George Karl should be fined for his unprofessional comments about his colleague Isaiah Thomas. In my judgement, his unwise comments added gasoline to the fire. Leaders are suppose to set examples. I think that Isaiah Thomas showed great class and restraint in not feeding into an already boiling situation. Shame on you George Karl. I have to put you in time out.

  10. kenneth says:

    You know I am sick and tired of these crybabies that call themselves professional ball players. When I played the game there was no such thing as a flagrant foul. You had to take the hard foul and keep on playing. These guys are soft.

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