ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy argued on Tuesday that the NBA should issue one-year suspensions followed by lifetime bans to players who are found guilty of domestic violence. During the broadcast of the New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets preseason game, Van Gundy went from discussing Derrick Rose's civil trial for sexual assault to referencing Darren Collison recently pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, as transcribed by The Athletic's Sean Highkin.
"Darren Collison of the Sacramento Kings just got suspended for eight games for his domestic violence conviction," Van Gundy said. "And I love everything that [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver has done. My one suggestion going forward is, any felony committed against a woman should be a full-season suspension. And on the second one, you're gone."
It's difficult to argue with Van Gundy's suggestion. Given the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States, the NBA should try to set an example and, as Van Gundy said, "be on the forefront" of stopping it. When the league suspended Jeffery Taylor for 24 games for a domestic violence incident in 2014, the league was seen as taking a strong stance. With the Collison punishment, not so much, though the NBA announced that it conducted its own investigation into the case and consulted with domestic violence experts. Those experts were the same ones who were involved with the Taylor case, per USA Today's Sam Amick.
(It is also worth noting that, while Van Gundy said a felony should be a full-season suspension and implied that Collison's punishment should have been more severe, Collison pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, not a felony.)
The trouble with all this, of course, is that it's easier for Van Gundy to draw those clear lines than for the commissioner to do so. Robert Silverman argued for Vocativ that there are dangers in the league serving as a "shadow judiciary" -- a potential lifetime ban, for example, could have the unintended effect of dissuading some abusers to call the police.
The NBA players union might oppose a potential change, too. when Taylor's suspension was announced, the NBPA initially called it "excessive, without precedent and a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."
Van Gundy should be applauded for bringing up the subject in the middle of a nationally televised game. It is unclear, however, if his specific plan is viable for the NBA. You can bet that, the next time Silver gives a press conference, he will be asked for his thoughts on the league's responsibility to respond to these incidents with harsher punishments.