On every one of those, Isiah Thomas has fallen short, and yet he has suffered no consequences. He got off scot-free again Monday when David Stern climbed into his seat of judgment and handed out the fines and suspensions for Saturday’s rumble in Madison Square Garden near the end of the Nuggets’ blowout win over the Knicks.
There shouldn’t be a lot of doubt about who gave the orders to Knicks’ rookie Mardy Collins to knock down the next guy who tried to throw down a slam in the game’s waning moments. In the Knicks’ previous game, another blowout loss (when writing of Knicks’ losses, that’s usually redundant), this time to the Pacers, Collins had delivered a flagrant foul in a similar situation. A player does that once, it might be his idea. He does it two games in a row, he’s only following orders.
Carmelo Anthony also told Stern that Thomas talked to him while free throws were being shot just 10 seconds or so before Collins threw a headlock on J.R. Smith and started Stern’s latest public relations nightmare.
Thomas had no reason to be talking to a member of the opposition during a game. That’s sin No. 1. But Anthony said — and lip readers think they can confirm — that Thomas warned him: “Don’t go in the paint.” You don’t need to be a cryptographer to decipher that bit of code. Something was going to happen, because Thomas had ordered it, but if someone was going to be hurt, the Knicks’ coach and president didn’t want it to be one of the game’s premier players.
But you don’t need a tape recording to see what happened and who ordered it. Stern’s determination to make the NBA more squeaky clean than a Disney cartoon is laudable, but he can’t do that if he lets coaches such as Thomas get away with ordering mayhem.
Stern points to the $500,000 fines he slapped on the Knicks’ and Nuggets’ organizations as proof of his determination to send a message to teams as well as players. But I’m having a hard time understanding why both teams get the same fine. Thomas’ team started this. His team should be more heavily penalized.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Thomas has offered no apologies. He’s tried to blame Nuggets’ coach George Karl, who still had four starters on the court with 90 seconds to play and a 19-point lead, saying Karl was running up the score, which made the Knicks’ short-tempered.
PBT: The Kings will stay in Sacramento under new ownership, which likely means a new front office and coach, too.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Grizzlies ready for 'running' Spurs
DPS: Lionel Hollins tells us how he plans to play against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.