Blog Entry

Do Stern's actions match his words?

Posted on: April 29, 2009 1:57 pm
David Stern was in attendance at a recent game I covered, one involving Dwight Howard, who has since transformed himself from NBA golden boy into Tree Rollins.

Before Game 4 of the Magic-Sixers series in Philadelphia, Stern did one of his breezy, folksy town hall meetings with the media. I say breezy and folksy and town hall because Stern elected to stand and pace while holding a microphone instead of sitting on the dais. (Maybe he was getting his Obama on.) But at one point, the sunshine Stern was trying to spread about his NBA – which is enjoying a mostly thrilling postseason thus far – was interrupted by Thunder and lightning and the famous wrath of the league’s underlord.

Stern was asked to comment on Erick Dampier’s verbal threat to put Tony Parker “on his back” the next time he drove to the basket. Stern’s smile was quickly replaced by a scowl, and there was no mistaking his seriousness.

“Our game’s doing great because we opened it up,” Stern began. “I, at least, have worked to make sure that violence – which is always a risk – doesn’t occur. That’s why we have flagrant fouls. That’s why we have flagrant twos. That’s why, if you throw a punch, you’re out. If you leave the bench, you’re out. The result of all of that is to tamp things down.”

Then came the money quote that is so relevant after Tuesday night’s acts of violence by Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo.

“If someone commits a wanton act of violence – and you could define that any way you want to – then someone else is going to come to the defense,” Stern said. “The pushing and shoving turns into whatever. Actually, we try to sell ourselves as a family sport that you’d be proud to bring you kids here to watch the game. And I don’t think that’s something that I particularly want to sell.”

And so there you have it. The commissioner has spoken. Now what actions will those words translate into with respect to Howard and Rondo?

Howard should be suspended for Game 6 of the Magic-Sixers series in Philadelphia Thursday night for throwing an elbow haymaker at Samuel Dalembert. His actions fit the most important part of the threshold for suspension: Howard’s flailing elbow was not natural or pertaining to the completion of a basketball-related play. It was an elbow aimed at an opponent’s head after the play was over, plain and simple. The Rondo foul on Brad Miller, which drew blood but no flagrant call with two seconds left in yet another overtime between the Celtics and Bulls, is a more difficult call. Unlike Howard, Rondo was involved in a basketball play. He was trying to stop an opponent from converting a game-tying layup at the most crucial juncture of a playoff game. (The playoff part shouldn’t matter; the rules are supposed to be the same regardless of the game’s significance.)

The fact that Rondo was trailing the play and appeared to have no chance to reaching the ball will be something for the league to consider. But in the end, Howard should be suspended and Rondo shouldn’t because you cannot expect a player in the Heat of battle to make a split-second decision as to whether his outstretched arm is long enough to reach a ball that is about to go into the basket. Whether Rondo could reach the ball or not – and it turned out he couldn’t – isn’t the threshold for suspension. It was his intent – such that we can determine – that matters. And in that situation – or any situation in which a player is trying to stop a layup and/or prevent a three-point play – we have to evaluate the player’s actions in the context of the play. On this play, Rondo’s objective was to try to reach the ball and prevent his opponent from scoring. The alternative – pulling back and not contesting the layup – would’ve been tantamount to letting the opponent score.

So Stern can remain consistent with his comments before Game 4 of the Orlando-Philly series by suspending Howard and not Rondo. Just remember: Never underestimate this commissioner’s commitment to curtailing violence. Just listen to his words, and watch his actions, and see if you think they match up.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: April 29, 2009 3:46 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

Food for thought?  What game were you watching?  The slap by Rondo was done with an open hand.  The only food for thought I see is how ridiculous your comments are...

Since: May 10, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2009 3:44 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

I wanted the Celts to lose that game more than anyone......and I can honestly say there was no fisting (ha ha ha...sorry).  Seriously, he hit him with an open hand.  Stop lying.

Since: Apr 4, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2009 3:32 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

e had an open hand, he had no time to decide to close his sfist or not. You are making thing sup. That iss weak.

Since: Mar 27, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 3:00 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

Desharn, Im not exactly sure what game you were watching or how many times Rondo struck Brad Miller besides the incident in question, but it was clearly an open forward slap. Rondo may have been making a play on the ball or actually trying an intentional foul that got out of hand. Regardless, unless he's faster than a speeding bullet, the laws of physics apply to him too. Miller was in the air in what was one of the slowest moves to the paint I'd ever seen. Had he been any faster, Rondo probably wouldnt have connected at all.

Since: Dec 19, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2009 2:46 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

Rondo was making a basketball play.  You can replace Rondo with almost any other 6ft, 6ft 1 point gaurd in the league and they are also going to hit 7ft Brad Miller in the side of the head.  "Hard fouls" in the playoffs shouldn't matter.  It was an attempt to stop the opposing team from scoring that looked worse because blood was drawn.  I don't know Rondo personaly but I have also never heard anyone say he is a dirty player and I don't feel his intentions were to hurt or injure Miller.  It just looked bad because there was blood and the game had to be stopped in order to attend to Miller.

I didn't see the elbow but have heard on numerous radio shows and read several articles that say David Stern is going to have no choice but to suspend Dwight Howard.  Unfortunate that has to happen but, Howard knows the rules of the game and he also knows the consequences.  Just ask Amare Stoudamire, he understands the rules after his postseason lesson two years ago. 

Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: April 29, 2009 2:37 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

Answer me this.  They justified Rondo foul by saying he was making a play on the ball in the heat of the moment right?  Well if that's the case when do you ever block a shout with your fist.  Take a look at the play and you see he hit Miller with a fist.  He didn't pull his arm or slap at his arm, he hit Miller with his fist.  It doesn't matter how tall Miller is and add to the fact that Rondo was beat and had no way to recover but his foul is justified right.  I'm just saying I haven't see anyone block a shot with their fist but that's just me.  A little food for thought.

Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: April 29, 2009 2:26 pm

Do Stern's actions match his words?

Eh, Rondo and Dwight just did that to see if Stern would stick to his word.....which we all know he doesn't.

But maybe he will.....just in the hopes of having each team lose to force Game 7's.....actually, I could see that happening now. It's all about ratings.

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