Posted on: April 29, 2009 2:08 pm
Sixers GM Ed Stefanski told radio station WIP in Philadelphia Wednesday that Dwight Howard should be suspended and likened his elbow to the head of Samuel Dalembert to a punch.
“I have no idea what the league will do, but to me the rule is black and white, it’s clear," Stefanski said. "What I saw was clear. I felt an elbow above the shoulders made contact on someone’s head and it wasn’t part of the play.”
Here's the transcript and audio link from SportsRadioInterviews.com.
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.
Posted on: March 24, 2009 8:49 pm
All I can guarantee about Celtics-Magic IV Wednesday night is that there will be a lot of complaining.
Before. During. After. Would you like some whine with that second seed?
Nobody whines for respect from the officials like the Celtics and Magic. OK, and the Cavs. OK, and the Lakers. Anyway, nobody in the playoff picture in either conference has a bigger inferiority complex than Orlando. Last we saw these teams together, the Magic nearly blew a 22-point third-quarter lead with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo wearing suits. (Nice ones, but suits.) Afterward, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy -- admit it, you can't get enough of him, can you? -- proceeded to complain about how the Magic are regarded nationally as an also-ran .500 team. Gee, after that performance, I wonder why?
Not satisfied with taking out one Eastern hub of the Revolutionary War this month, Van Gundy took aim at New York Monday night. The Knicks planned this nice, respectable little shin-dig for their legends, and Van Gundy used the opportunity to complain about how the Knicks never made any effort to hire Patrick Ewing. I'm sure Van Gundy's motivations are pure (wink-wink), but maybe it's something as simple as this: He's tired of his 7-foot freak of nature, Dwight Howard, who is coached by Ewing, getting pushed around by the likes of Leon Powe.
Anyway, Boston and Orlando in the middle of the NCAA's Sweet 16 is about as good as it gets in late March in the NBA. The Celtics finally are at almost-full strength. (Tune in to the pregame interviews, and Doc Rivers will fill you in on all the physical misfortune the poor Celtics have endured. By the time tipoff arrives, you'll be stuffing money in an envelope and sending it to the big bank building/Garden on Causeway Street. Just a dollar a day can keep the starting five in the whirlpool through the conference semifinals.)
The Magic are beginning what will be a fascinating mission to clear hurdles that sent them home prematurely the past two years. They're too soft. All they do is shoot threes. No killer instinct. You know the drill.
They're catching the Celtics at a time when Boston has taken more lumps than it's used to lately. Now the defending champs are looking to inflict some. The Magic, to their credit, are actually stating their preference for a first-round opponent: Their nemesis, the Pistons, who have swept them and cut them down 4-1 in the past two postseasons. This is one thing I greatly admire about Orlando. They recognize the natural progression that great teams before them have followed. You have to beat the team that's knocked you out before.
"Hopefully we play Detroit again," Howard said Monday night after Orlando beat the Knicks. "That'd be good for us because I think we have to get over that hump. Those guys have beaten us two years in a row and they left a bad taste in our mouth. Hopefully, this year it’ll be different Every year, I don’t know what it is about the Pistons, but they seem to have our number and we need to get over that hump mentally. There’s teams around the league that give us problems, and they’re one of those teams. In order to grow out of it, we have to mentally step up to the challenge and beat those guys."
Well, as things stand now, if Orlando can pass the Celtics for the second seed, they'd get their wish and face the Pistons in the first round. But there's a lot more at stake than that. Not the least of which is to see which team does more complaining, lobbying, and whining. I'm picking the Magic in that department, but don't count out the champs.
Posted on: February 14, 2009 11:11 pm
PHOENIX -- So KryptoNate beats Superman. But what about the King?
Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard resurrected an otherwise snoozer of a dunk contest Saturday night with a thrilling dunk-off that featured Nate soaring over the 6-11 Howard for the winning dunk. Next year, he'll have the the King to contend with: LeBron James.
LBJ said during a courtside interview on TNT that he plans to participate in the dunk contest for the first time in his career next year at All-Star weekend in Dallas. That was the news of the night, bigger than Nate's second slam dunk title.
Robinson, who switched to a kryptonite-colored green uniform and shoes for the final round, said he'll come back for a shot at his third title next year, too. But LeBron -- assuming he was serious -- will be the headliner.
It's been a long time since the biggest star in the game has been in the dunk contest. Booking my flight to Dallas tomorrow.